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G8 leaders hope Greece remains in eurozone

US President Barack Obama (right) and his French counterpart Francois Hollande.

By Anne Geran

President Barack Obama and other leaders of the Group of Eight industrial nations expressed hope Saturday that Greece will remain in the eurozone as they huddled for a shirt-sleeves summit aimed at keeping Europe's economic troubles from multiplying and spreading around the world.

Circling up around a table in a rustic cabin at the presidential retreat, the leaders underlined the need to keep bringing deficits down through austerity measures but also agreed that targeted spending on things like education and public works projects is needed to solve Europe's financial crisis.

"All of us are absolutely committed to making sure that growth and stability and fiscal consolidation are part of an overall package,» Obama said.

Germany's Angela Merkel, for her part, said growth and deficit cutting reinforced each other «and that we have to work on both threads, and the participants have made that clear, and I think that is great progress."

The G8 leaders' joint statement from the woods of Camp David reflected both hope and a recognition of the daunting economic challenges they face.

"The global recovery shows signs of promise, but significant headwinds persist,» it said.

The summit brought together leaders of the United States, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Britain, Russia, and Japan in an effort to figure out how to tame Europe's debt crisis while also increasing the demand for goods and spurring job growth.

Their statement conceded some points to Merkel's push for austerity, saying budget deficits needed to be closed. But it added that budget cutting should «take into account countries' evolving economic conditions and underpin confidence and economic recovery.» That suggested a willingness to let indebted countries take more time to reduce their deficits in line with eurozone rules in order to lessen the deadening impact of cuts on the economy.

"The right measures are not the same for each of us,» their statement said.

Their statement of support for Greece remaining in the euro underlined the potential and unpredictable damage to the global financial system that could come from a Greece departure. It follows a week of increasing speculation that Greece might not be able to stay the course. [The Associated Press]

ekathimerini.com , Saturday May 19, 2012 (22:05)  
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