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Brazilian President Mends Ties With President Obama On White House Visit


President Obama offered reassurance today that the Greek debt crisis should not pose a major shock to the U.S. economy. Still, he and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have been encouraging their European counterparts to try to find a way to keep Greece in the eurozone. Greece's money troubles were one of several topics that Obama addressed during a White House news conference this afternoon. NPR's Scott Horsley runs them down.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: There's much less panic about a Greek default than that there might've been a few years ago, but President Obama says it's still a concern. An unruly exit by Greece from the common currency could further slow economic growth in Europe. And while that wouldn't be a tsunami for the U.S., Obama says there would be some ripple effects.


BARACK OBAMA: So it's something that we take seriously, but it's not something that I think should prompt overreactions.

HORSLEY: The administration has been urging Greece and its European creditors to smooth things over. Obama's comments came during a White House press conference with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. They've managed to smooth things over after a diplomatic freeze two years ago when Rousseff canceled a planned visit to the U.S. to protest American spying. Since then Rousseff says she's gotten assurances from Obama that the U.S. will not eavesdrop on her telephone calls.

Speaking through an interpreter, she called today's meeting a re-launch of the two countries' relationship.


DILMA ROUSSEFF: (Through interpreter) Countries, they go through crises and difficulties. It's just natural. That applies to countries, to people. It applies to everything in life.

HORSLEY: As a token of renewed friendship, Rousseff gave Obama a Brazilian soccer jersey, which he joked about wearing whenever Brazil is not playing team USA. Obama described Brazil as a key player in confronting many global challenges, including climate change.


OBAMA: All the major countries have to be involved in that process, and Brazil we consider to be an absolutely indispensable partner.

HORSLEY: Obama also delivered a stern message to Iran as negotiations to that country's nuclear program stretch into overtime. Negotiators have given themselves an extra week to try to finalize an agreement, but Obama stressed any deal must follow the existing outline, including international inspections.


OBAMA: I will walk away from the negotiations if, in fact, it's a bad deal.

HORSLEY: If a nuclear deal is struck with Iran, it could be a significant piece of Obama's presidential legacy along with the Affordable Care Act and his Pacific trade agenda, both of which survived close scrapes last week. Obama said the twin victories were a culmination of efforts he's been making since taking office and he insists he's not yet exhausted the items on his presidential wish list.


OBAMA: Some of them will be left undone, but we're going to try to make progress on every single one of them.

HORSLEY: That includes the new overtime rule, further expansion of Medicaid, and a big public works bill he's pushing this summer. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.
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