September 13, 2011 / 8:16 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Euro zone leaders must act on crisis says Obama

* Greece immediate concern; Spain and Italy bigger problem

* Euro leaders must co-ordinate monetary and fiscal policy

* Global weakness linked to euro zone crisis

(Adds details)

MADRID, Sept 13 (Reuters) - The euro zone’s leaders need to show markets they are taking responsibility for its debt crisis and work out how to tally monetary union with budget policy, Spanish press reported U.S. President Barack Obama as saying.

Greece is the immediate concern, but an even bigger problem is what may happen should markets take another run at the larger economies of Spain and Italy, the EFE news agency reported Obama as telling a roundtable with Spanish-speaking journalists in Washington.

“It is difficult to co-ordinate and agree a common path when you have so many countries with different policies and economic situations,” Obama said, according to the report on the El Mundo newspaper website.(

“In the end the big countries in Europe, the leaders in Europe must meet and take a decision on how to coordinate monetary integration with more effective co-ordinated fiscal policy,” the EFE Spanish-language report quoted Obama as saying.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is due to make an unprecedented one-day trip to Poland this week to meet with euro zone finance ministers as fears grow that Greece will soon default on its debt.

Weakness in the global economy will continue so long as the euro zone crisis is not resolved, Obama said.

Greece is “the biggest immediate concern”, the report quoted Obama as saying, but the biggest problem will be “what will happen in Spain and Italy if the markets keep attacking these very big countries.”

A long-term solution is possible if markets believe euro zone countries with budget surpluses are willing to back their partners in the monetary union, he said.

The United States is deeply involved in consultations with the euro zone over how to resolve the crisis, Obama said.

The euro zone debt crisis will be one of the major issues on the table at the G20 meeting in France in November, he added. (Reporting by Sonya Dowsett; editing by Patrick Graham)

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