US President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner hold fiscal talks

US President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner have held surprise national debt talks.

The two met at the White House for 50 minutes

But there was little sign of progress between them on efforts to defuse a crisis and avoid going over the so-called fiscal cliff

Officials from both sides would only say that the two leaders "had a frank meeting"

Unless a deal is done by the end of the year, all Americans will see their taxes go up and steep budget cuts will come into force.

With such a hit, many analysts believe that the fragile US economic recovery could be thrown into reverse.

Republicans want more spending cuts to be made while Mr Obama has said he wants to raise the taxes on the wealthiest Americans