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Obama Discusses Eurozone Crisis, Syria With Sarkozy, Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy
The White House said that President Barack Obama discussed the latest developments in the eurozone crisis with France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A White House statement said that Obama "welcomed the continued leadership of President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel in addressing the challenges facing Europe's economy."

The statement also says that Obama consulted with Sarkozy and Merkel on the situation in Syria.

The leaders condemned the use of indiscriminate violence in Syria.

Obama spoke to the French and German leaders in separate phone calls as Italy proposed an emergency G-7 meeting while euro lending costs soared and stock prices plummeted.

The White House did not elaborate on the substance of Obama's conversations with Sarkozy and Merkel.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank (ECB) has agreed to start buying up Italian bonds in return for a promise from the government to accelerate deficit cuts.

It was announced by Italian Federalism Reforms Minister Umberto Bossi. He said that the move is "a solution, a guarantee" for Italy.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced that Italy would accelerate a package of austerity measures adopted by parliament last month to ensure budget balance is reached in 2013 instead of 2014 as forecast earlier.

compiled from agency reports