U.S. supports Greek efforts to counter debt crisis: Hillary Clinton

08:43, July 18, 2011      

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Greek President Karolos Papoulias (R) meets with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Athens, capital of Greece, on July 17, 2011. The United States strongly supports the efforts made by Greece to counter the debt crisis which has hit the country, said visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday. (Xinhua/POOL)

The United States strongly supports the efforts made by Greece to counter the debt crisis which has hit the country, said visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday.

"We share your optimism that Greece is on the right path to overcome the crisis," she noted during a meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias, who praised the friendship between the two sides particularly in difficult times, as the United States faces similar financial woes.

"We stand by Greece. We understand you have taken difficult decisions to return to growth. The major challenge ahead is to continue the reforms required with further determination, since the cost of inaction would be heavy," said Clinton in separate talks with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, her Greek counterpart Stavros Lambrinidis and Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

Voicing confidence that Greece will prove wrong analysts who predict its financial collapse over the past year and a half, the Greek officials noted that friends prove themselves in difficult periods and the U.S- Greece partnership has passed the test.

The Greek debt crisis was top on the agenda of issues under discussion in Athens, that included prospects of boosting bilateral cooperation in sectors such as tourism, the improvement of ties between Greece and Turkey, the prospects of a solution to the Cyprus issue and other regional issues, such as recent developments in the Middle East and the Arab world in general.

Clinton also co-signed with Lambrinidis a memorandum of cooperation on imposing import restrictions on categories of ancient and Byzantine treasures up to the 16th century BC to combat illegal trafficking and selling of ancient artifacts, before visiting the New Acropolis museum.

Clinton pays a two-day visit to Greece in the context of a diplomatic tour to Europe and Asia. She is due to leave Greece on Monday after talks with Greek main opposition conservative party leader Antonis Samaras.

The clear expression of U.S. support to Athens comes as European leaders are busy preparing for an emergency summit this Thursday on the possibility of granting a second aid package to Greece to avoid a default that would have great repercussions across the continent.

Greece narrowly escaped bankruptcy last year securing a multi-billion bailout pact from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in exchange of harsh austerity and reform measures, but is still under mounting pressure from markets and international credit rating agencies which insist on an imminent default, selective or not.

Source: Xinhua

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