US President Barack Obama has said Europe must not flinch as its political leaders confront a debt crisis that he acknowledged could do real harm to America's economic recovery.
In an interview with the newspaper La Stampa on the eve of a White House meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, Mr Obama said the United States would do its part to help, but stressed that the burden lay mostly with Europe.
"What is necessary now is for all European governments to show their absolute commitment to the future of economic integration in Europe," Mr Obama said in a text of the interview published on the Italian newspaper's website.
"If Europe puts in place a large enough firewall, it significantly reduces the probability that it will need to be used," he said.
He also praised Italy's "impressive steps" to modernise its economy and cut national debt.
Mr Obama met Mr Monti at 7.45pm (Irish time) to discuss Italy's steps to restore market confidence and boost growth, "as well as the prospect of an expansion of Europe's financial firewall," the White House said.
The US has said for months that Europe has the resources to tackle the crisis and Mr Obama repeated that message in his interview.
He did not try to play down US vulnerability to a slowdown in its most important trading partner.
"The United States has an enormous stake in Europe's growth and the euro area's success," President Obama said.
He also said the US "will continue to do our part to support our European friends as they work to resolve this crisis," but gave no details on what that might mean in practice.