EU 'ready' to help Portugal if asked: Belgium

24th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

European partners will come to Portugal's rescue if the crisis-hit Lisbon caretaker government asks for financial assistance, Belgium's finance minister Didier Reynders said Thursday.

"We are obviously ready to step in and help, but Portugal has to ask first," Reynders said at a gathering of European Union liberal leaders ahead of an EU summit, starting 1600 GMT, rocked by the resignation of debt-ravaged Portugal's prime minister.

"I have always thought that it would be useful to organise aid, simply because that allows (Portugal) to pay less interest on its debt while undergoing restructuring, and therefore make less demands, sometimes onerous ones, on (its) people."

"If Portugal asks, we will be ready to intervene. For that to happen, there will need to be a (negotiated) plan to bring its finances back to better health, and a request to unlock European (emergency) funds."

© 2011 AFP

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