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Economy

Obama lays out post-shutdown agenda, praises Italy

US President Barack Obama has urged US lawmakers to find a long-term budget solution after a temporary deal that reopened government. He told visiting Italian premier Enrico Letta that Italy's reforms were encouraging.

Obama says standoff damaged US

Obama highlighted the need for a lasting solution that would stave off future fears of a default and ensure no repetition of the crippling US government shutdown of recent weeks.

His comments came a day after the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-led House of Congress passed an eleventh-hour bill to fund the government until January 15 and to extend federal borrowing until February 7.

"These twin threats to our economy have now been lifted," Obama said in a White House address. "There are no winners here."

Obama said the standoff, which saw the US close to a default, had caused US borrowing costs to rise.

"The American people are completely fed up with Washington," Obama said.

"Probably nothing has done more damage to America's credibility in the world than the spectacle we've seen these past few weeks," the president said.

Obama added that both Houses of Congress should focus on the longer-term budget problems, farm legislation and immigration.

"All my friends in Congress have to understand that how business is done in this town has got to change. Because we've all got a lot of work to do," he said at the White House.

World responds to deal

The impasse arose as a faction of the Republican Party sought to gain concessions that would delay or water down Obama's trademark healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The temporary nature of Wednesday's agreement has left investors relieved but uneasy about the next time the debt limit is set to expire.

Praise from Letta

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who was visiting Obama Washington, congratulated the president over the deal.

“His success is our success,” Letta told reporters after a meeting at the Oval Office. “Yesterday's decision was very important for stability in the markets and the world.

Obama reciprocated, offering his backing for the measures that Italy has taken to aid recovery following the financial downturn.

"It is clear that Italy is moving in the right direction in stabilizing its finances and embarking on reforms that will make it more competitive," Obama said.

"When Europe is doing well, that means we are doing well also," he added.

rc/ipj (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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