UPDATE 2-U.S. says EU must do what it takes to solve debt crisis

Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:54pm EDT

* Europe in focus for G20, IMF meeting

* EU urged to show resolve in crisis

By Glenn Somerville and Rachelle Younglai

WASHINGTON, April 17 (Reuters) - Europe must commit to long-term reforms that strengthen its currency union, a senior U.S. Treasury Department official said on Tuesday, but she repeated the U.S. will not contribute more to the International Monetary Fund to contain the eurozone debt crisis.

Speaking ahead of a Group of 20 finance ministers' meeting on Friday, U.S. Treasury Under Secretary Lael Brainard said Europe will have to be flexible and ready to move toward greater fiscal integration in future.

"The path ahead obviously required them to address the longer-term contours of their union and ultimately address questions of fiscal integration," she said.

"The euro area will need to strike a careful balance to avoid a downward spiral of austerity and recession," Brainard said and it will take time to do so.

"Europe must demonstrate a continued willingness to do whatever it takes to reinforce the foundation of the currency union including through greater fiscal integration," she said.

The G20 meets on the sidelines of the semiannual gathering of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for a weekend of talks that Brainard said would focus largely on Europe's ongoing debt problems.

In recent days some countries, including Japan, Sweden and Denmark, have said they would commit a total of $77 billion to the IMF to help stop Europe's debt problems from spilling over into the rest of the global economy.

There is some concern the IMF may not have enough resources on hand to deal with fallout from the European crisis, especially if problems in Spain and Italy intensify.

While Brainard said the United States was not prepared to offer additional resources now, she referred approvingly to the recent commitments by some others to contribute more.

The Obama administration is reluctant to go before Congress to seek more money for the IMF, which potentially would be portrayed by Republican opponents as bailout money for wealthy European nations.

Brainard said the IMF was looking at the adequacy of its resources and expected that process to continue over the coming weekend.

"The IMF has been engaging in conversation about resources and that conversation is yielding good progress and we expect it to yield good results and be in a good place over the next few days," she said.

Brainard added that her general impression was that the IMF was in good shape and that it has "core" resources on hand as well as commitments that it could activate quickly if needed to backstop Europe.

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