US, German finance chiefs downplay gap on austerity policies but give no ground

The new U.S. Treasury secretary and his German counterpart are downplaying their differences over whether Europe should ease off on austerity in the interests of economic growth.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew met Tuesday with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble as part of the US official's tour of Europe. Germany has been a force behind making deficit reduction the focus of the eurozone's crisis response while Washington has said it would like to see greater emphasis on growth-friendly policies.

Schaeuble renewed his insistence that there's no contradiction between budget discipline and growth. Asked about the U.S. budget deficit, he said it's not for Europe to give advice.

Lew said he "would emphasize where we agree as a starting point" and added there is a shared commitment to growth and fiscal discipline.