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1ST LEAD Trump supports Greek debt relief; Tsipras optimistic on US relations By Anne K Walters and Frank Fuhrig, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Washington (dpa) - US President Donald Trump expressed support Tuesday for debt relief programmes for Greece, as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras worked to patch relations with the man he had once characterized as "evil."

After talks between the leaders at the White House, Trump praised the economic reforms undertaken by Athens, which has remained under international bailout programmes since 2010.

"The American people stand with the Greek people as they recover from the economic crisis that recently afflicted their nation," Trump said.

"I have encouraged the Prime Minister in his continued implementation of reform and reform programs, and I have totally reaffirmed our support for a responsible debt-relief plan."

The statement follows a call last year by Trump‘s predecessor, Barack Obama, for "meaningful debt relief" for Greece, a measure long advocated by the International Monetary Fund but resisted by European creditors.

"Greece has gone through a lot over the last number of years, but they are doing a terrific job of coming back," Trump said. "And they will be back."

Trump also announced his administration‘s approval of 2.4 billion dollars in military sales to Greece to update its air force‘s F-16 fleet.

But the meeting was as much about developing a relationship between the populist leaders from opposite ends of the political spectrum as in addressing specific policies.

"The Greek-US relationships may be at their best compared to the past since the Second World War when our peoples worked together and fought together shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism," Tsipras said, as both leaders touted shared democratic traditions and other ties.

But the Greek leader was later asked by a reporter about remarks he made before Trump‘s election last year, declaring of the prospect of a Trump presidency, "I hope we will not face this evil."

Tsipras downplayed the remarks, as Trump joked, "I wish I knew that before my speech" praising US-Greek relations.

Tsipras responded by noting the United States‘ immense power to do good in the world and said the US and Greece would set aside any differences for the common good.

"I think our collaboration will be very substantial, and I‘m very optimistic after our meeting that we had today," he said.

Trump declared that many leaders had been hesitant about his election because of his "America First" policies, but that he had since developed good working relationships with them.

"The reason they were concerned was because I will not allow our country, the United States of America, to be taken advantage of by so many other countries all over the world," he said.

Greece, a member of the US-led NATO alliance, has een under a series of international rescue loans since 2010 amid a protracted economic crisis.

The White House visit comes with Tsipras in Washington following last week‘s annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde praised Greece‘s "notable progress" in implementing "difficult policies including recent pension and income tax reforms," after meeting Tsipras on Monday.

The Washington-based crisis lender is one of Greece‘s main creditors, along with the IMF‘s European partners.

The IMF has pushed for Greece to receive debt relief, which European institutions have resisted. Representatives from the IMF and European Union are due next week in Athens to review the progress of reforms under the current bailout package, which expires in August 2018.


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(25.11.2017 05:05)

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