Geithner to Travel to Europe Ahead of Key Summit

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will travel to Europe next week to lobby key leaders and officials ahead of a make-or-break summit aimed at halting European debt crisis contagion.

The Treasury said in a statement that Geithner will meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Italy's new prime minister Mario Monti, and Spain's new prime-minister elect Mariano Rajoy on the Dec 6-8 trip, which will include stops in Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, Marseille and Milan.

Geithner has been urging European leaders for months to erect credible backstops for euro-area governments and for banks under market pressure from the crisis. He has expressed concern that a wider crisis would hurt global growth, and has said he wants the threat of ``cascading defaults'' taken off the table.

Geithner will start his trip in Frankfurt, where he will meet with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann. The ECB under Draghi has shown willingness to take bolder steps to ease the crisis, including new liquidity measures announced on Wednesday.

Among steps likely to be discussed at the Dec. 9 European Union summit is greater ECB purchases of euro-zone sovereign bonds. Germay wants this tied to tougher budget controls for bloc members.

Geithner will meet with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble in Berlin before traveling to Paris on Dec. 7 to meet with Sarkozy and French Finance Minister Francois Baroin. Later that day he will fly to Marseille for a meeting with Rajoy. He will meet with Monti on Dec. 8 in Milan before returning to Washington.

Geithner will not stay for the EU summit in Brussels, which follows a string of half-measures agreed to by European leaders over nearly two years. Those measures failed to stop bond market contagion spreading from Greece to Ireland, Portugal and now Italy and Spain.

In September, Geithner attended an EU finance ministers meeting in Poland to urge more fiscal stimulus and suggest ways they could boost the firepower of European-International Monetary Fund bailout facilities. He received a cool reception from some ministers. (Reporting by David Lawder, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama; Editing by Andrew Hay)