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Global Bankers Anxiously Watch U.S.

"The United States must take its responsibility in this situation, must show statesmanship for the sake of their own country and for the sake of the world," Johannes Laitenberger, a spokesman for the European Commission, told reporters.

In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was "of incredibly great significance" that Congress approve a rescue plan by the end of the week, calling it "the precondition for creating new confidence on the markets." Merkel's comments came as German financial officials were finalizing an emergency $51 billion rescue of the country's second-largest commercial property lender, Hypo Real Estate Holding.

Hypo nearly collapsed over the weekend, just days after German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck declared that the country's banking sector was "extremely stable" and that the credit crisis was primarily "an American problem."

Last week, Germany and other countries rejected feelers from the U.S. Treasury Department about coordinating a global rescue of ailing banks. But there were signs that European opposition was fading.

Steffen Kampeter, a parliamentary leader on budget issues for Merkel's Christian Democratic Party, said German lawmakers might be receptive to such an approach if Congress is unable to act in the next few days. "This was and is a global problem that requires international solutions," he said. "We expect a signal from the Americans for what type of strategy to follow."

Ordinary Europeans said they, too, were counting on Washington.

"We are looking to America to shine a light, to find a resolution forward, and quick," said Ivan Hallworth, 45, a computer salesman interviewed in a bookstore in central London.

"We're all focusing on Congress and what's happening and looking to America for leadership," he added. "We have every confidence America will pull through."

Jordan reported from London. Correspondents Edward Cody in Paris and Emily Wax in New Delhi and special correspondents Shannon Smiley in Berlin and Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.


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