Germany, France Reach Agreement on Greece before EU Summit
    2011-07-21 11:02:59     Xinhua       Web Editor: Gong

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) welcomes France's President Nicolas Sarkozy before talks in Berlin, July 20, 2011. Merkel believesThursday's summit of euro zone leaders will agree on a new Greek bailout, while her talks with France's Nicolas Sarkozy later on Wednesday will help Europe find such a solution, an aide said. [Photo: Xinhua/Reuters]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy have found a common position on rescuing indebted Greece, hours ahead of a key EU summit, officials said early Thursday.

Joined by the European Central Bank (ECB) President Jean-Claude Trichet, Merkel and Sarkozy reached an agreement on the next bailout plan for Greece, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said after hours of late-night talks between the leaders.

The three leaders also communicated with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy by telephone during the meeting, he added, without giving any details of the agreement.

The key EU summit, scheduled for Thursday in Brussels, is aimed at finding a convincing solution to debt-ridden Greece, which was granted its first 110 billion euro (156 billion U.S. dollar) EU/IMF bailout last year but failed to end the financial nightmare.

Heads of state of the 17-nation eurozone, IMF chief Christine Lagarde and Trichet are due to attend the meeting.

Trichet showed up unexpectedly in Merkel's office late Wednesday, and took part in the discussion between Germany and France, two crucial powers in European affairs and the main contributors to bailouts for eurozone nations.

Although the two governments expressed confidence before Wednesday's talks, observers warned that Berlin and Paris' disagreement regarding the terms of the new bailout for Greece would create a lot of uncertainty at the upcoming summit.

Backed by Finland and the Netherlands, Germany has long demanded that private creditors should share the burden of rescuing Greece, while France and the ECB opposed such moves, arguing that it would trigger a selective default in Greece and cause more disastrous outcomes in the eurozone.

On Tuesday, Merkel played down expectations for the summit, saying that the meeting would not bring about a "spectacular" or all-round solution to the Greek debt crisis as well as the eurozone financial woes.

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