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Obama seeks backing for recovery plan

US President Barack Obama has launched a drive to get his US$825 billion economic recovery plan through Congress, predicting law makers would resolve differences before a mid-February deadline.

"We are experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis that has to be dealt with and dealt with rapidly," Obama told reporters as he met Democratic and Republican congressional leaders on Friday at the White House.

Obama, who has used his first four days in office to roll back some of the policies of his Republican predecessor George W. Bush, lifted restrictions on US government funding for overseas groups that provide abortion or counseling.

The Democrat, who was sworn in on a mandate of change, has pledged swift action to rescue the US economy from the worst turmoil in decades. With a daily stream of gloomy economic data, he has warned there is little time to lose.

Winning Republican support for the stimulus plan will be an early test of Obama's promise to forge consensus and overcome the partisan politics that divided Washington under Bush.

In another show of bipartisanship, Obama will meet Republican law makers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to hear their ideas about the stimulus plan, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Bush rarely visited Congress, preferring to send aides and sometimes his vice president, Dick Cheney.

Obama's appeal to Democrats and Republicans to set aside their differences appeared to pay swift dividends, with the most powerful Republican in Congress, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for a joint effort to fix the economy.

Republicans, who have voiced concern over the shape of the stimulus package, left the meeting praising Obama for being open to suggestions on amending the plan.


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