Europe Finance Ministers Expected to Approve New Bailout for Greece

Posted February 20th, 2012 at 5:10 am (UTC-5)
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Finance ministers from countries that use the euro currency are expected to approve a new $171 billion bailout for Greece when they meet in Brussels Monday.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Sunday that Greece has passed a very strong and difficult package of reforms that deserves the international community’s support. He said the United States encourages the International Monetary Fund to support a new loan for Greece.

The Greek government fulfilled European Union demands last week and approved a new round of spending cuts along with cuts in the minimum wage and the elimination of thousands of civil service jobs.

Millions of Greeks complain that they have already sacrificed enough, saying they do not know how they will cope when their salaries and benefits are slashed.

Thousands of Greeks protested in Athens Sunday against the massive spending and salary cuts. The protests were generally peaceful, but a group of youths broke away from the main march and threw rocks and bottles at riot police, who responded with tear gas.

Greece faces bankruptcy if it cannot pay investors $19 billion in debt when government bonds come due next month. The government is negotiating a bond swap with the creditors that would save the country billions of dollars.