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Greek referendum more unlikely, PM turns to negotiations for unity administration


08:21, November 04, 2011

ATHENS, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- A Greek referendum over the European Union (EU) aid package was more unlikely on Thursday, as Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou suggested during a crucial cabinet meeting that he was willing to withdraw the plan in exchange for the forming of a national coalition.

"The referendum was never a primary goal in itself. Even though we are not afraid of people's judgment, I am glad this discussion forced the main opposition to support the October 26 agreement on the new aid package," he said in a statement.

He would seek the creation of a national consensus administration in the coming hours with the main opposition conservative party New Democracy (ND), the prime minister said.

Amid a revolt by key cabinet ministers and lawmakers of the ruling PASOK party, Papandreou did not confirm the rumors that he intended to step down.

He said he was forced to call a referendum on Monday to force the ND Antonis Samaras to shoulder his responsibilities.

Holding snap general elections at the moment would pose a danger of default for the country, the prime minister warned.

He announced that he mandated his close aide Nikos Athanasakis and Transport Minister Dimitris Reppas to negotiate the creation of a national unity government with the ND.

He had a short telephone conversation with Samaras, who earlier Thursday had called for a transitional government and snap election in the coming weeks, according to a statement released by the prime minister's office minutes before he addressed PASOK's parliamentary group.

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