WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday tried to shore up confidence in Europe's ability to solve its escalating debt crisis, saying they had the financial and economic capacity to do so.
"There is no chance that the major countries of Europe will let their institutions be at risk in the eyes of the market. There is not a chance," Geithner told CNBC television.
Geithner commented after Moody's cut the credit ratings of two French banks, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole, because of their exposure to Greek debt.
The leaders of Greece, France and Germany are expected to talk about measures to head off a possible Greek default later on Wednesday.
"They are absolutely committed and they have the financial capacity, the economic capacity to do what it takes to hold this thing together," said Geithner, who was the head of the New York Federal Reserve at the height of the 2008-09 financial crisis and helped craft a plan to prop up major Wall Street banks and stabilize the financial system.
Geithner is taking the unusual step of attending an informal meeting of EU finance ministers in Poland on Friday. He is expected to urge the ministers to speed up the ratification of changes to their bailout fund.
Geithner said European policy makers recognized that they have to do more and that they have been behind the curve.
(Reporting by David Lawder, Lisa Lambert and Rachelle Younglai; Editing by James Dalgleish)