Page last updated at 22:42 GMT, Sunday, 7 March 2010

France offers support to Greece

Greek Prime Minister Papandreou and French President Sarkozy
Mr Papandreou expressed appreciation for French support

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said his country will stand "resolute" with Greece as it imposes austerity measures to reduce its 12.7% deficit.

He met Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who is seeking EU and US support in a series of meetings.

Mr Papandreou expressed appreciation for French support, but repeated that help from the International Monetary Fund might still be needed.

He wants countries to calm markets and reduce Greece's high borrowing costs.

Mr Papandreou said Greece "was not asking for money".

The euro is our currency - it implies solidarity
Nicolas Sarkozy

"We asked to be able to borrow with similar, if not the same terms, as the other eurozone countries."

At a joint press conference in Paris, Mr Sarkozy said: "France is by the side of Greece in the most resolute fashion.

"The euro is our currency. It implies solidarity. There can be no doubt on the expression of this solidarity."

However, he did not outline any specific measures to help Greece, but said his finance minister was working on a plan.

"Christine Lagarde, in tandem with her colleagues in the eurozone and in Europe... is working on a certain number of precise measures if Greece needs them."

He said the eurozone countries would not abandon it as that would defeat the purpose of the common currency.

Washington visit

Mr Sarkozy agreed that speculators were artificially hiking the cost of borrowing for Greece and that "concrete, precise means" existed to combat them.

Mr Papandreou will visit Washington on Tuesday for talks with President Barack Obama as part of his tour to boost support.

Mr Papandreou's meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel also failed to result in definite measures as Greece had hoped.

"After my meetings more specific ways are beginning to emerge about how to deal with any possible borrowing problems," he said, without giving details.

The latest Greek measures include cutting civil servants' pay, freezing pensions and hiking some taxes, including sales, fuel, cigarettes and alcohol taxes.

Strikes and violent demonstrations have erupted since the measures were announced with two more general strikes called for Thursday and 16 March.



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