Greece must boost growth: German, Greek ministers

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The German and Greek finance ministers agreed late Wednesday that Athens must boost its economic growth if the cash-strapped country wants to restore its budget balance.

At a dinner in Berlin Wolfgang Schaeuble and Evangelos Venizelos agreed that an austerity plan voted by the Greek parliament "must immediately be put into action to return Greece rapidly to a healthy economic situation," the German finance ministry said in a statement.

"But beyond this, other measures to sustain growth must be taken. It is only with a stronger private economy and with private investments that Greece will be able to achieve a balanced budget in the medium and long term," it added.

This was the first meeting between the two finance ministers since Venizelos's appointment last month in a crisis reshuffle by Prime Minister George Papandreou.

On Saturday, eurozone finance ministers agreed to release the fifth slice of the first rescue agreed for Greece after the Greek parliament last week approved new tough budget reforms.

A total 110 billion euros ($160 billion) in loans is to be offered to Greece over three years with 80 billion coming from Europe including some 22 billion from top lender Germany.

© 2011 AFP

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