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Merkel sounds softer on Greece

Aug. 24, 2012 at 2:18 PM
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BERLIN, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel softened her stance on Greece Friday, saying she was working for the country to stay in the eurozone.

"What I want is to bring the two realities that have emerged back together into one reality. Now it's the task of those who have political responsibility in Europe to bridge that gap. I want Greece to say in the eurozone and that's what I'm working for," Merkel said.

She said she had confidence that the Greek government "will do what it takes to solve the problem in Greece."

Merkel met with French President Francois Hollande Thursday to coordinate a response to Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' request for an extension on paying back multibillion-dollar international loans.

Samaras, who met with Merkel Friday, spent most of the week sparring with her through the media, The New York Times reported.

Samaras' message was that Greece was not asking for more money, it was asking for time.

Merkel has advocated sticking to the established plan. But she also said the next decision should not be made before the organizational threesome, the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, completed a report, due in September, on progress Greece has made in bringing its debt into line with European Commission standards.

There has been a growing cry throughout the continent to simply cut Greece out of the eurozone.

Showing Greece the door "would not be a problem for the euro," said Volker Kauder, a leader in Merkel's parliamentary party.

Samaras was scheduled to meet with Hollande on Saturday.

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