Canadian PM to visit Greece

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will travel to Greece for bilateral talks on May 28-29 on the heels of a Group of Eight summit in France, his office announced Friday.

Harper, who will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, will meet with Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou to discuss two-way trade and investment, and international economic and security issues.

He will also meet with the business community and visit a number of historic sites.

"Canada and Greece enjoy excellent bilateral relations strengthened by over 243,000 Canadians of Greek descent," Harper said in a statement. "I look forward to exploring ways to further develop the very strong people-to-people ties that exist between our countries and to further develop our excellent political, cultural and economic relationship."

Greece received a 110-billion-euro ($156-billion) bailout from the EU and IMF last year but it was planned that the country would begin to return to the markets next year to refinance part of its massive debt.

With markets now asking over 25 percent interest on two-year Greek bonds, that looks increasingly unlikely and the EU and IMF have been looking at helping Athens meet an expected gap of around 60 billion euros.

But with Athens not making sufficient progress on cutting its deficit, there has been increased talk -- even by European officials -- that Greece will not be able to keep on top of its debt of around around 340 billion euros.

© 2011 AFP

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