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Merkel says Greece needs structural reforms to rebuild economy

(Xinhua)

16:46, January 16, 2012

BERLIN, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Greece needs structural reforms in addition to austerity measures in order to rebuild its economy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday.

Merkel told Deutschlandfunk public radio that structural reforms, though slow to show results, have to be forcefully implemented in the Greek efforts to fight the ongoing sovereign debt crisis.

"Progress has been made in Greece," Merkel said, adding that Greek debt restructuring aims to bring its debt down to 120 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020. According to Eurostat's provisional data for 2010, the Greek debt is about 150 percent of its GDP.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle visited Greece on Sunday to discuss with Greek leaders on the financial crisis in the southern European country.

"The foreign minister is travelling with a message of encouragement and expectation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke told a regular briefing on Friday.

Eurozone governments agreed last year on the second bailout package of 130 billion euros (165 billion U.S. dollars) for Greece, which asked Greek private creditors to accept a 50 percent reduction in the value of their holdings of Greek debt, but it is doubtful that the planned debt reduction of 100 billion euros (127 billion dollars) will be enough to keep Greece afloat.

Talks are underway between Greek leaders and private investors on the writedown of their holdings of Greece's debt.

International debt inspectors from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund will return to Greece on Tuesday to assess the country's progress on budget cuts and other reforms it pledged to get international aid. The inspectors' positive report is needed for Greece to get the next batch of bailout cash.

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