PARIS Greece found an ally in France's finance minister on Sunday as Athens seeks support from its European creditors for its efforts at economic reforms that are crucial to opening talks on easing its debt burden.
Speaking after meeting in Paris with his Greek counterpart, who is on a tour of euro zone capitals, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said he was won over and that France was in favour of moving on to tackling the debt issue quickly.
"I was convinced ... that the Greek government is determined to respect its commitments on all of the subjects," Sapin told a news conference.
"The faster that we can speak about the question of Greece's debt the better it is for everyone," Sapin added.
Speaking at the joint news conference after meeting with Sapin, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said he was "quite confident" that a first review of Athen's reform efforts under its latest bailout could be completed quickly, opening the way for discussions about Greece's debt.
"It's absolutely critical for us that since we've done so much to gain this credibility that this is acknowledged," Tsakalotos said. "I think that we will get there in the end."
Greece's European creditors are due to start the review on Jan. 18 with the aim of wrapping it up in February, euro zone officials say.
The formal review, the first since the euro zone and Greece agreed on a third bailout package in August, is to include controversial reforms like changes to Greece's pension system, a plan for which Athens sent to Brussels last week.
Tsakalotos said that Greece had found some of the 1.8 billion euros in savings from the pension system that it has been asked to make, but that it needed some leeway to ensure that further cuts did not fall this year after years of successive reductions.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Greg Mahlich)