- - Sunday, July 17, 2011


Clinton says debt efforts can inspire the world

ATHENS — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday said Greece’s “resilience” in tackling its huge debt could inspire the world as she expressed Washington’s support to the government’s reform efforts.

“I have faith in the resilience of the Greek people,” Mrs. Clinton said at the start of two days of talks with Greek leaders in Athens.

“I applaud the Greek government on its willingness to take these difficult steps. Greece has inspired the world before, and I have every confidence that you are doing so again,” she said after meeting with her counterpart, Stavros Lambrinidis.

“We stand by the people and government of Greece as you put your country back on a path to economic stability and prosperity,” Mrs. Clinton said.

The message is intended to boost the embattled socialist administration of U.S.-born Prime Minister George Papandreou, who has labored to enforce tough reforms demanded by Greece’s creditors over the past year.

The unpopular measures have sparked waves of strikes and protests, many of them violent, with many Greeks angry at the apparent futility of the effort.

Despite a huge effort last year involving painful wage and pension cuts, deficit reduction targets ultimately were missed because a greater-than-foreseen recession ate up part of the sacrifices.

This forced Mr. Papandreou’s administration to bring a new austerity package before parliament last month. Creditors threatened to withhold continued aid unless it was passed.

“Those acts of leadership will help to build a better economic future,” Mrs. Clinton said Sunday.

“Now the challenge will be to keep moving forward with the same determination and commitment to make good on the fiscal targets and continue to deliver reform that drives future growth.”

Mrs. Clinton also was to meet with Mr. Papandreou, Greek President Carolos Papoulias and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Sunday.

She is scheduled to meet with main opposition leader Antonis Samaras on Monday before flying to India, the next stop on her regional trip.


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