Obama to meet top lawmakers in new push to head off default

WASHINGTON (AFP, AP) - United States President Barack Obama is set to meet Republican and Democratic congressional leaders at the White House on Monday, stepping up efforts to reach a deal to head off a historic debt default.

Obama will hold the meeting at 1900 GMT (3am Singapore time) and make clear "the need for Congress to act to pay our bills", a White House official said on condition of anonymity.

The leaders scheduled to attend are Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Vice-President Joe Biden is also scheduled to attend.

The last meeting between Mr Obama and the congressional leaders was Oct 2.

The White House said Mr Obama would reiterate his desire for Congress to pass Bills to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling. The White House also said he would make clear that he "will not pay ransom" for lawmakers taking those steps.