France, Germany Move to Ease Greek Crisis

Posted June 17th, 2011 at 9:50 am (UTC-5)
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France and Germany are setting aside key differences, promising a new rescue package to stop the Greek financial crisis from potentially crippling Europe's economy.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday, “There is no time to lose,” and that a new aid package would be completed as soon as possible.

The two countries had been divided over whether banks and investors should be forced to contribute to any new rescue. But during a meeting in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to make their participation voluntary.

Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou also moved Friday to ensure the approval of controversial budget cuts needed to secure more aid.

Mr. Papandreou overhauled his Cabinet, naming Evangelos Venizelos to take over as finance minister. Venizelos had been serving as defense minister.

The change comes one day after two members of the ruling Socialist Party quit parliament in protest of austerity measures that have sparked a series of nationwide protests.

Passage of the austerity measures are a condition of last year's $160 billion bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

European Union economic chief Olli Rehn said Thursday he is confident eurozone ministers will grant a $17 billion loan payment to Greece to prevent Athens from defaulting on its debt.

The Greek crisis has weakened the euro, which has also been hurt by economic problems in Portugal and Ireland.