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Obama says it appears some progress in Senate toward averting default


U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about his meeting with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to break the impasse over the budget in Washington April 7, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about his meeting with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to break the impasse over the budget in Washington April 7, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday it appears there has been progress in Senate fiscal impasse negotiations but that there is a good chance the United States will default on its debts if Republicans are unwilling to set aside some partisan concerns.

Obama emerged from the White House to visit Martha's Table, an organization that makes meals for low-income families where some furloughed government workers have been volunteering.

Obama, who is to meet congressional leaders at the White House at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT), said he would be able to determine at that meeting whether the progress is real toward ending a government shutdown and avoiding a debt default ahead of a Thursday deadline.

"My hope is that a spirit of cooperation will move us forward in the next few hours," Obama said.

Obama warned "we stand a good chance of defaulting" unless real progress is made this week in the Senate and House of Representatives and if Republicans are not willing to set aside some aside some of their partisan concerns.

A debt default would send interest rates shooting up and the damage to the economy would be greatly magnified "if we don't make sure that the government's paying its bills and that has to be decided this week," he said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rapmpton; Writing by Steve Holland; Editing by Bill Trott)

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