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Lew to Europe: Focus on growth and jobs

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew
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U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew

As G20 finance ministers arrived in Moscow for a two-day meeting, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has told Europe it is time to focus on boosting growth as President Obama has done since the 2008 financial crisis.

"The U.S. is again a source of strength in the world economy, only five years after it was the center of a global crisis. This has not happened by accident," said Lew in an op-ed published by the Financial Times on Thursday.

Lew believes Europe must now focus on boosting jobs and growth as President Obama has done since taking power shortly after the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

(Read More: Educated with a dead-beat job: The unseen legacy of Europe's crisis)

"In many parts of the world, such as Europe, growth is too weak to drive job creation, and it is critical to take steps to bolster private hiring," Lew said.

Lew praised his boss for reforming, repairing and recapitalizing the U.S. banking system and introducing rigorous stress tests that have made "sure our banks have the capital needed to start providing credit again."

"While long-term fiscal policy requires tough decisions, we knew we could not cut our way to prosperity," said Lew. His comments are unlikely to be welcomed by U.K. Chancellor George Osborne who was again this week told by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to focus on boosting growth.

(Read More: UK gets austerity 'reality check' after latest fiscal report)

"Our businesses have created more than 7 million new jobs since the depths of the crisis, and private demand is strong enough to sustain momentum. Challenges remain but there is broad strength throughout the economy, including in housing, cars and the fast-growing energy sector," wrote Lew.

Lew believes the euro zone, which has been fighting to maintain financial stability, must now do more to focus on growth.

"Europe is now in a position where it can put greater priority on boosting demand and addressing unemployment levels that have reached historic highs," said Lew, who notes that euro zone demand remains 5 percent below 2007 levels, and 15 percent lower in Southern Europe.

Having tried to stay out of the euro zone debate on growth on his two previous trips to Europe, the reaction of European finance ministers to his comments could be closely watched.

(Read More: Lew's Europe visit comes at a critical time for Euro)

When his predecessor Tim Geithner toured Europe at the height of the euro zone debt crisis in 2011 and offered advise on how to deal with it he was met with a cool response to say the least.

(Read More: Advice on debt? Europe suggests US can keep it)

"Europe needs to look closely at using its macroeconomic tools to drive growth up and unemployment down." said Lew who will be hoping problems in Europe don't put a dampener on America's recovery.

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