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Clinton expresses strong support to Greece

18. July 2011. | 09:28

Source: ANA

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday expressed the US government's strong support for the efforts of the Greek people and the Greek government to overcome the debt crisis, during a press conference following her meeting with Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday expressed the US government's strong support for the efforts of the Greek people and the Greek government to overcome the debt crisis, during a press conference following her meeting with Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis.

Their meeting was the first in a round of scheduled meetings between Clinton and Greece's leadership during her visit to Athens, where she arrived late on Saturday from neighbouring Turkey after attending a meeting of the Contact Group for Libya.

Clinton underlined that the government of Prime Minister George Papandreou had faced tough decisions and expressed Washington's support for his determination to carry out reforms.

Doing nothing would have far worse consequences than the current difficulties, she added, expressing her faith in the resilience of the Greek people.

"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.

She stressed that the Greek government was on the right path and that the reforms it had carried out were like "chemotherapy" and would make the country more competitive and more attractive to investors.

"I am not here to in any way downplay the immediate challenges because they are real. But I am here to say that we believe strongly that this will give Greece a very strong economy going forward," Clinton said.

Lambrinidis stressed that the Greece of today bore no relation to the Greece of the past and he emphasised the need for European solidarity in order to overcome the crisis. He also underlined the government's determination to forge ahead with reforms.

"We believe that we shall come out of this difficulty victorious," he said. "Many on both sides of the Atlantic have bet on the collapse of Greece and then have been proven wrong. We will continue to prove them wrong."

During one-on-one talks lasting half an hour, followed by a meeting between Greek and US delegations, Clinton and Lambrinidis discussed the economic crisis and issues of foreign policy, focusing mainly on the situation in Libya, the Middle East, the western Balkans, the Cyprus issue and Greece's relations with Turkey.

Concerning the Cyprus issue, Lambrinidis expressed his conviction that progress was possible and had to be striven for, while noting that the necessary political will on Turkey's part was an essential precondition for success.

Referring to the crisis in Libya, Clinton thanked the Greek government for its willingness to receive Nato force at the naval base in Souda and Athens' support after the attack on the US Embassy in Damascus. She said the two sides had shared views concerning the process of democratisation in north Africa and welcomed Athens' stance on the EU accession of the western Balkan countries.

After her meeting with Lambrinidis, the US Secretary of State attended a working dinner with the prime minister at his offices.

Arriving for the dinner, she conveyed her family's warm regards to Papandreou and, on a lighter note in response to questions posed by an American journalist, expressed her excitement that the US women's soccer team will be playing in the World Cup final against Japan on Sunday night.

She said that Vice-President Joe Biden and her own daughter Chelsea would be in Frankfurt to watch the game and support the US team, while she would be watching the game in Athens.

Sources in the government said her talks with the premier covered the economic crisis, foreign policy issues, the problems faced by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, energy issues and the 'Arab Spring', as well as Greece's role in the region.

There was complete agreement during the meeting on the need for a comprehensive and effective solution for the crisis in both Greece and in Europe, in order to send markets a clear message and deal effectively with speculators.

There followed a meeting between Clinton and Greek President Karolos Papoulias, while she is next scheduled to meet Greece's finance minister Evangelos Venizelos. A meeting between Clinton and Greece's main opposition New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras is to take place on Monday.


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18. July - 24. July 2011.