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US Treasury Secretary says debt relief important for Greece


US Treasury Secretary says debt relief important for Greece



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The US Treasury Secretary on a visit to Athens has urged the Greek government to make more progress on budget and economic reforms.

Jack Lew said that was the way for Greece to get debt relief and boost its struggling economy.

He told Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: “Congratulations on the hard work and the progress of the past year. There are more things to be done.”

It was the final stop on a European tour which started in London after the shock Brexit vote.

On that Lew said: “The US remains committed to working with our UK and EU counterparts as they work though this transition to ensure continued economic stability and advance shared economic growth and prosperity in Europe and around the world. An outcome from the UK and the EU that produces a highly integrated relationship between the two is in the best interest of Europe, the United States and the global economy.”

Lew stressed that for Greece there must be progress on reforms before European leaders can talk with the International Monetary Fund about the timing and details of Greek debt relief: “The fact that we are sitting here now in July and the world is not worried about an immediate crisis in Greece is a good thing. But it does not mean that the issue is once and for all resolved and that is what the discussion in the coming months I think will need to be about.”

Athens and its eurozone partners, financing its third bailout since 2010, are trying to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF has yet to commit to taking part in funding the loan package of up to 86 billion euros. It argues that Greece’s bailout target for a primary budget surplus of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product beyond 2018 is hard to achieve and has pushed for softer fiscal targets to take part in financing the third bailout.

As he met Lew, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was keen to stress his country’s increased strategic significance following the failed coup attempt in neighbouring Turkey.

He said: “It also proves our decision to remain in the eurozone was the right one. Our government managed to stabilise the economy taking harsh but necessary decisions. Now we need solidarity more than ever.”

That echoed comments from Lew in an interview with the Financial Times newspaper. He said: “I would hope (the recent regional upheaval) would change the climate in which discussions of debt relief happen, just because it’s the right thing to do on its own, and at a time when Greece is in a position of geopolitical significance, that’s a good time to reinforce their fiscal future.”

Euronews Athens Business correspondent Symela Touchtidou concluded: “The Athens visit of the US Treasure Secretary is anything but ceremonial. With Turkey in deep political crisis at the eastern border and Italy on the verge of a banking crisis to the west, Greece is expected to be a pillar of political and economic stability in the wider region.”


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