WASHINGTON — Top lawmakers aiming to reach a deficit-reduction deal agreed on Thursday to step up the pace of their talks with a series of meetings next week but said they still disagreed over the need to raise taxes.

Vice President Joe Biden and six leading Democratic and Republican lawmakers have now met a half-dozen times as they try to work out their differences and reach a deal to reduce trillion dollar budget deficits.

Thursday's Capitol Hill meeting took place amid growing pressure at home and abroad for an agreement that would let Congress raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before an August 2 deadline, when the Treasury Department has warned it will run out of money to pay the nation's bills.