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Obama, other G-8 leaders push economic growth over austerity

May 19, 2012 |  1:59 pm

Campdavid
CAMP DAVID, Md. -- President Obama and leaders of the world’s other leading economies Saturday embraced a policy of growth over austerity in Europe as they met on the cloistered grounds of Camp David to talk about fending off a spread of the Eurozone crisis.

The leaders agreed that the region should still work to bring down deficits through fiscal consolidation and that each country must decide for itself the best mix for promoting economic recovery.

In a group statement they put together during a round-table session in the morning, they said they hope Greece will remain part of the Eurozone as it climbs its way out of a crippling sovereign debt crisis.

They also signaled that they may find it necessary to tap the world’s strategic oil reserves in the coming months to keep oil flowing during an Iranian embargo.

But the clear focus of the Group of Eight summit was on widespread growth and jobs.

"All of us are absolutely committed to making sure that both growth and stability and fiscal consolidation are part of a overall package that all of us have to pursue in order to achieve the kind of prosperity for our citizens that we're looking for," Obama said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, chief proponent of austerity in the past, joined in the new emphasis on growth, saying she thinks it’s important to “work on both threads" and applauding the accord as "great progress."

The communiqué from the Group of Eight summit suggested that Obama’s strategy for dealing with the European crisis may be paying off, despite the fact that the U.S. has never been in a position to take leadership on the problem.

Instead, he has employed quiet diplomacy to nudge the European leaders in his direction, and toward a policy focused on economic growth and job creation.

Even though there are few specific commitments in writing, the group’s intent is reflected in the decision to mention the word "growth" 10 times in the joint statement and debt and debt reduction through "fiscal consolidation" only twice.

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-- Christi Parsons

Photo: French President Francois Hollande, left, President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrive at a photo session at the G-8 Summit at Camp David, Md., on Saturday. Credit: Philippe Wojazer / Associated Press (pool)

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