(Adds more Obama remarks, background)
WASHINGTON, April 5 President Barack Obama on Tuesday warned that the U.S. economy could not afford the disruption that a government shutdown could inflict, but saw no reason a deal on the budget could not be struck.
"It would be inexcusable of us to not be able to take care of last year's business ... when we are this close, simply because of politics," he said during a surprise appearance at a White House daily briefing after meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders to discuss the fiscal 2011 budget.
That meeting did not yield an agreement over what federal spending to cut, bringing closer a government shutdown on Friday, when a stopgap measure to fund the government expires, if neither side yields.
Obama said the "last thing" the U.S. economy needed as it recovers from a severe recession was to suffer the disruption that a shutdown would cause.
Obama, a Democrat, said Republican Speaker of the House of Representative John Boehner and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid would meet again on Tuesday to continue discussions, and he would ask everyone back to the White House on Wednesday if there was still no deal.
"We are prepared to meet for as long as possible to get this resolved," the president said, adding that he was ready to negotiate over the composition of the cuts. "What we can't do is have a 'my way or the highway' approach to this problem."
(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Sandra Maler)