U.S. President Barack Obama is hosting European Union leaders for a summit Monday that is expected to focus on the European debt crisis.
The meeting at the White House comes as EU members struggle to agree on how to contain the deepening economic problems plaguing the eurozone – the group of 17 EU countries that use the euro as their currency.
The summit includes European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The leaders are also expected to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, the Middle East peace process, cyber crime and terrorism.
Credit rating agency Moody’s warned in a statement Monday that while it believes there will not be widespread defaults in the eurozone, the probability of multiple debt defaults is “no longer negligible.”
The financial crisis in the eurozone’s weaker economies, especially Greece, has undermined the currency’s stability and caused global market turmoil.
Mr. Obama said earlier this month that the situation will continue unless European leaders take decisive action. He said the main issue facing the eurozone is “problem of political will.”
France and Germany, the two largest economies in the eurozone, called last week for changes to EU treaties to require better fiscal policies by its members.
The proposal came after a meeting with Italy, whose debt crisis is threatening to force the country to seek an international bailout. Italy’s sovereign debt is currently estimated at $2.6 trillion – far more than Greece or other European countries that have been given EU and International Monetary Fund bailouts.