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Obama calls stalemate crisis talks


A US National Park Service employee closes access to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC amid a partial government shutdown

A US National Park Service employee closes access to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC amid a partial government shutdown

A US National Park Service employee closes access to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC amid a partial government shutdown

Politicians on both sides of the US congressional stalemate have been summoned for talks with president Barack Obama as the partial government shutdown showed little sign of a breakthrough.

Republican leader of the House, Speaker John Boehner, said he would attend the White House meeting, interpreting it as a sign the president is ready to start negotiating on Republican demands to extract changes to the new health care law in exchange for funding the government.

Mr Obama has repeatedly said he will not allow Republicans to use the must-have spending bill to derail the health care law, his most significant domestic policy achievement. An Obama adviser said the president will urge the House Republicans to pass a spending bill free of other demands.

Funding for much of the government was cut off after a Republican effort to thwart the health care law stalled the short-term, normally routine spending bill.

Public anger mounted as the partial shutdown closed national parks and monuments and disrupted functions from garbage collection in Washington D.C. to medical research. Nearly a third of the federal workforce - 800,000 employees - were sent home. People classified as essential employees - such as air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and most food inspectors - continued to work.

The shutdown also forced Mr Obama to cancel two of his four stops of a long-planned trip to Asia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The increasingly entrenched standoff - and especially concerns of a looming debt limit crisis - rattled stock markets that had largely shrugged off the shutdown on its first day.

Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid, Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were also to attend the White House meeting.

Some Republicans appeared ready to agree to Mr Obama's demand for a straightforward spending bill with no strings attached.

The budget dispute has divided their party. A core of conservative activists have led a passionate charge against the 2010 health care law, arguing it is hurting jobs and restricting freedom by requiring Americans to have health insurance. But others fear the party will be blamed for the shutdown and face the consequences in next year's congressional elections.

Peter King, a New York Republican, said that House members aligned with the small-government tea party movement are trying to "hijack the party."

But House Republican leaders and tea-party backed members seemed determined to press on. The House leadership announced plans to pass five bills to reopen more popular parts of the government, including national parks, processing of veterans' claims and government of Washington, D.C. The White House immediately promised a veto, saying opening the government on a piecemeal basis was unacceptable.

Across the nation, America roped off its most hallowed symbols, from the Statue of Liberty in New York to the Washington Monument, and ushered campers away from the Grand Canyon and other natural wonders. The far-flung effects reached France, where tourists were barred from the US cemetery overlooking the D-Day beaches at Normandy.

With the shutdown ruining holidays and sapping tourism business, Americans inundated social media to vent their frustration. "You should not be getting paid. In fact, you all should be fired!" Bruce Swedal, a 46-year-old Denver real estate agent, tweeted to Congress members.

Unaffected by the shutdown, a key part of the health plan took effect Tuesday. Health insurance exchanges opened online across the country to take applications for coverage.