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Sarkozy, Merkel demand Greek action

Monday, February 06, 2012 - 02:36

Feb. 6 - The French and German leaders told Greece time was running out as it attempts to get a deal on a debt restructuring plan, and warned Athens it would only get its second bailout if it delivers on its promise of more economic reforms. Joanna Partridge reports.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel must have had a lot on her mind on her arrival in Paris for annual talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Their meeting came as Greece missed another deadline for its political parties to agree a deal on the promised economic reforms it needs to implement in return for a second EU IMF bailout. Sarkozy had a warning for Athens. SOUNDBITE: French President Nicolas Sarkozy, saying (French): "The solution is now for the two parties -- New Democracy and the Greek Socialist Party -- to take their responsibilities. Europe is a place where everyone has rights but also has duties. And you can't demand your rights without rising to your duties. Time is running out, it's a matter of days. Things have to be concluded: they have to decide and they have to sign." Sarkozy and Merkel held a news conference after a meeting between top government ministers from both countries. They're keeping up the pressure on Greece to meet the reforms suggested by the EU, the ECB and the IMF, known as the "troika". Both leaders suggest that interest payment for Greece's debt are paid into a separate account so the money can be made available to Athens. SOUNDBITE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying (German): "We want Greece to stay in the euro, and be clear about it, both of us hold this opinion. But I also say there can be no new Greek programme if agreement is not reached with the Troika. And all those who carry responsibility in Greece must know that we will not deviate from this position." Merkel is openly backing Sarkozy in France's presidential election in April. Despite having different temperaments and policies, the two leaders have worked together during much of the euro zone debt crisis, to the extent they've been named "Merkozy". SOUNDBITE: French President Nicolas Sarkozy, saying (French): "The unfailing and determined alliance between Germany and France has allowed Europe, and especially the euro, to avoid falling into the financial abyss. We realise completely that we haven't yet got out, but during all these long months, this three years of crisis, it's the alliance between Germany and France which has allowed Europe to overcome the challenges it's been facing." The German chancellor is regarded in France as a trusthworthy leader, and could give Sarkozy more credibility on economic issues. But he will need all the support he can get in the upcoming election - so far opinion polls suggest he'll be defeated by his Socialist rival Francois Hollande. Joanna Partridge, Reuters

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Sarkozy, Merkel demand Greek action

Monday, February 06, 2012 - 02:36