President Barack Obama began meeting with the top Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday to help hammer out budget cuts to avert a damaging government shutdown on Friday, a White House official said.

Obama convened the Oval Office meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid out of concern that too little progress was being made in talks.

(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Patricia Zengerle)