Page last updated at 12:37 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Greece asks US to help crackdown on speculators

George Papandreou: "It is time to put our house in order"

The Greek prime minister has called on the US to help crack down on the financial speculators he blames for exacerbating his country's debt woes.

George Papandreou said he wanted to see the US impose stricter regulations on hedge funds and currency traders.

The comments of the Greek prime minister came before he is due to meet US President Obama later on Tuesday.

Greece is continuing to pass austerity measures as it seeks to reduce its substantial budget deficit.

Its deficit currently stands at 12.7%, more than four times higher than the 3% limit set for the 16 European nations that share the euro.

'Utter disregard'

"Unprincipled speculators are making billions every day by betting on a Greek default," said Mr Papandreou, who met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Monday.

"That is why Europe and America must say 'enough is enough' to those speculators who only place value on immediate returns, with utter disregard for the consequences on the larger economic system - not to mention the human consequences of lost jobs, foreclosed homes, and decimated pensions," he added.

Ms Clinton said the US wanted to work with other nations to reform the "unregulated financial market that globally moves money at the speed of sound, if not light, and leaves in its wake all kinds of consequences that governments have to contend with".

'Winning trust'

Separately, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that it could be up to the European Commission to decide if Europe should have tougher rules on financial speculators.

Speaking in Luxembourg, she also reiterated her view that Greece did not need direct financial support.

"Greece has won some trust back through the steps taken by its government," she said.

Greece is seeking assistance from fellow European Union nations to make it cheaper for it to borrow funds on the international financial markets.

Concerns about its giant debts currently make it more expensive for Greece to borrow money compared to most other European nations.

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