Merkel urges Portugal to uphold deficit targets

24th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Portugal's political parties on Thursday to stick to deficit reduction targets after the prime minister resigned over parliament's rejection of his austerity plan.

"Portugal has presented a very courageous programme for 2011, 2012, 2013. It was appropriate. I deeply regret that a majority was not found in parliament (on Wednesday)," Merkel told reporters.

"It is very, very important that all those who speak in Portugal's name state clearly their attachment to the objectives of this programme," she said ahead of a summit of EU leaders rocked by Portugal's political and debt crisis.

"This is not only important for Portugal, but also for all of Europe and in particular for members of the eurozone," she said.

All five opposition parties voted Wednesday against the government's fourth cost-cutting plan in a year, increasing the chances that Portugal will follow Greece and Ireland in requiring a bailout worth billions of euros (dollars).

The rejection prompted Prime Minister Jose Socrates to resign.

© 2011 AFP

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