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US President Barack Obama will hold talks with congressional leaders Friday at the White House, hours after huge across-the-board spending cuts kick in, sources said.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi will attend the meeting, congressional aides said.
There was no immediate confirmation of the talks from the White House.
The automatic spending cuts totaling $85 billion this year are due to kick in on March 1, and wrangling between Obama and Republicans on an alternative way to trim the deficit has stalled attempts to subvert them.
The White House has warned of a "perfect storm" of widespread furloughs, nationwide airport delays and less secure US borders, and says pre-school programs could be canceled, teachers laid off and public services curtailed.
Republicans accuse the president of resorting to scare tactics and are balking at averting the so-called "sequester" by raising new revenue to match targeted spending cuts -- a key Obama demand.
The painful, automatic budget cuts were envisioned as a mechanism to defuse a previous spending showdown by forcing both sides into a deal to cut the deficit, but Washington is so dysfunctional that no agreement has been reached.