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The Globe and Mail

No Greek deal Friday with Samaras: Merkel

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday dismissed the chances of agreeing on changes to Greece's bailout package during upcoming talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

"We won't have a solution on Friday," Ms. Merkel said during a visit to Moldova that preceded talks on Friday in Berlin with the Greek premier.

"We wait for the report of the troika. Then we will decide," she added in reference to representatives from the European Union and its Central Bank as well as International Monetary Fund who are now auditing Greek finances.

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Greece is seeking to extend the terms of a previously-agreed bailout deal by two years until 2016 to avoid further measures that could fuel popular unrest.

But the delay may require additional funding from European economic powerhouse Germany – a move deeply unpopular with some members of Ms. Merkel's ruling coalition.

Greece could begin to run out of cash in the next few months without additional cash and is expected to hold a parliamentary vote on further cost-cutting measures next month.

The release of a pending installment of aid depends to a large degree on the vote's outcome as well as the outcome of the monitors' audit.

Some European officials fears that a check of the books will find Greece in even further debt because the initial bailout was agreed when its economy was still enjoying healthier days.

Ms. Merkel made clear that no major announcement on Greece should be expected until the auditors submitted their report within the coming weeks.

She instead promised to focus her talks with Mr. Samaras on making sure that all parties respect their commitments so that investors had confidence that nations were moving along the right course.

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"I go into the talks this week aware that we must ensure that every partner fulfills their obligations – that Germany, France and all the other countries fulfill their obligations," the German chancellor said.

"What Europe needs is credibility in all political questions," she added.

The Greek premier meets with French President François Hollande on Saturday in Paris.

Ms. Merkel meanwhile will return to Berlin on Thursday to plot debt crisis strategy with the visiting French president.

"It is about Europe as a whole this week, this is the spirit that guides me in my talks with the French president," Ms. Merkel said.

Ms. Merkel has fought hard to save the euro and treats a possible Greek exit as the first step of a chain reaction that could topple the already-wobbly economies of southern European nations such as Italy and Spain.

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She repeated the unity message in ex-Soviet Moldova after emerging from talks with Prime Minister Vlad Filat.

"It is an important thing that we are deeply convinced that (euro zone nations) belong together and have to organise our cooperation in a globalized world," Ms. Merkel said.

But she also acknowledged that many inconsistencies and contradictions remained in the euro zone project.

"We haven't removed the mistakes we made at the very beginning," she said.

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