WASHINGTON Nov 1 (Reuters) - The sudden decision by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to hold a referendum on the country's financial rescue shows that Europe must act fast to tackle the debt crisis, the White House said on Tuesday.
"The decision made by the Greek prime minister ... just reinforces the notion that ... the Europeans need to elaborate further and implement rapidly the decisions they made last week," said White House press secretary Jay Carney.
Financial markets shuddered on both sides of the Atlantic on concerns that a 'no' vote could lead to Greek bankruptcy after Papandreou shocked his own country, and his European colleagues, with his announcement that came days after Europe hammered out the outline of a second Greek bailout.
Washington worries that continued failure to confront Europe's problems could trigger much wider financial market turmoil, undermining a fragile recovery underway in the United States and inflicting recessions on both sides of the Atlantic.
"It remains the case that the Europeans have the capacity to deal with this crisis. and they need to implement the very important decisions they made last week," Carney said.
President Barack Obama heads to France on Wednesday evening for a meeting of G20 leaders in Cannes at which the European debt crisis will be the central focus. He holds bilateral meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shortly after he arrives on the French Riviera.