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Obama: We won't be held to ransom by Republicans

President Barack Obama took an aggressive stance in the row with Republicans over raising America's debt limit yesterday, saying he would not allow them to use the threat of America defaulting and a government shut-down to extract concessions from him on spending cuts.

They cannot "collect a ransom for crashing the US economy", he declared, one week before his swearing-in for a second term.

He urged Congress to reach agreement on raising the debt ceiling as quickly as possible. "The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip. And they better decide quickly because time is running short," the President, above, said.

The stand-off could come to a head next month when the money will run out for America to pay all its bills without a debt ceiling increase.

Meanwhile, former President George H W Bush was released from a Houston hospital on Monday after more than seven weeks of treatment for bronchitis and related ailments.

"Mr Bush has improved to the point that he will not need any special medication," said a family spokesman.

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