French, German ministers to visit violence-hit Athens

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French and German ministers plan to visit Greece to reassure it over its debt crisis, France's Europe minister said Wednesday, after deadly violence there sparked by planned austerity measures.

Pierre Lellouche and his German counterpart Werner Hoyer will visit the Greek capital "very soon, I hope next week", Lellouche said, expressing his "emotion" at news that three people died there when a bank was fire-bombed.

"The Greek government and people must understand that what is being asked of them is not a punishment," Lellouche said on television. "It is a very bitter pill and we are very aware of that."

Eurozone countries along with the International Monetary Fund have agreed emergency measures worth 110 billion euros (143 billion dollars) to rescue Greece from a debt default, but in return it must enforce painful cutbacks.

© 2010 AFP

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