Sarkozy, Barroso urge firm action to help Greece

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission chairman Jose Manuel Barroso called for quick and firm action Monday to counter attacks by speculators on debt-ridden Greece.

Sarkozy and Barroso agreed during a working lunch on "the need for quick and resolute action against the speculation that is targeting Greece, in order to ensure the stability of the eurozone," a statement from the Elysee palace said.

On Friday Greece asked the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to roll out a financial aid package worth some 45 billion euros (60 billion dollars) to help rescue its economy.

Athens is hoping to get the first loans before May 19, the deadline for refinancing 8.5 billion euros in debt.

But Germany appeared to be baulking at the plan when Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Monday the aid would not be handed over without Athens first presenting a credible programme for debt reduction.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel however later sounded a reassuring note, saying that kicking Greece out of the eurozone was "not an option" and voicing confidence that talks between the IMF, the EU and Greece will yield results.

According to statement from the French presidency, Sarkozy and Barroso stressed the "importance of an ambitious European economic strategy based on a real European economic governance."

© 2010 AFP

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