Obama willing to negotiate, but only after congress ends shutdown

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US president Barack Obama will look at a proposal by congressional Republicans to extend the debt ceiling for six weeks but insists that lawmakers end the 10-day government shutdown as well, a White House official said on Thursday.

The White House did not reject outright, but reacted cautiously, to a plan that House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner presented to fellow House Republicans ahead of a meeting they were to hold with Mr Obama on Thursday.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, insisted that Mr Obama would not agree to negotiations over the debt limit, a primary goal of conservative House Republicans.

"While we are willing to look at any proposal Congress puts forward to end these manufactured crises, we will not allow a faction of the Republicans in the House to hold the economy hostage to its extraneous and extreme political demands," the official said.

Congress needs to pass a clean debt limit increase and a funding bill to reopen the government.

The US Treasury expects to exhaust its remaining borrowing capacity by October 17.

Republican members of the US House of Representatives, on the other hand, expressed concern that the president will refuse to negotiate even if they approve the six-week debt limit hike without conditions.

There is a lot of concern from members from all sides about the emerging proposal, one senior Republican aide said. 

Representative Rodney Davis, a moderate Republican from Illinois, said he believed that despite the concerns, House Republicans will back the short-term debt limit increase plan.

House Republicans were meeting with their leaders on Thursday to discuss the plan, which is aimed at drawing Mr Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid into deficit-reduction talks.