Greek PM to visit Russia on April 8: officials

17th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will visit Russia on April 8, a month earlier than a scheduled May visit, the government said on Tuesday.

"The prime minister will visit the Kremlin following an invitation by Russian President Vladimir Putin," a government source said.

Tsipras was due to visit Moscow on May 9 for Russia's annual Victory Day parade, which will this year commemorate the 70th anniversary of Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II.

The Greek PM's office declined to give additional explanation for the April visit.

But Greek daily Ta Nea said it was linked to a cash shortage faced by Athens owing to the non-delivery of loans remaining in its 240-billion-euro ($255-billion) EU-IMF rescue package.

Athens "sought to bring forward" the meeting with Putin owing to "stifling economic conditions caused in the country from the European side," the daily said on Tuesday.

Greece is still locked in discussions with its international creditors on a revised reform plan, and Tsipras on Monday said he was confident that a European summit later this week would provide a breakthrough.

The Greek PM is also hoping that a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on March 23 will help Athens' cause.

Upon taking office in January, Tsipras, a former Communist, immediately set about trying to renegotiate Greece's hugely unpopular IMF-EU bailout, but also shows signs of wanting to cultivate closer ties to Russia.

Days after he came to power, Greece protested against an EU statement threatening further sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

The new foreign minister Nikos Kotzias later said that the EU should avoid "spasmodic" moves against Russia.

© 2015 AFP

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