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Merkel, Papandreou buying time for debt-stricken Greece

The German chancellor and Greek prime minister today gave speeches pushing their plan to solve Greece's economic crisis, just days before the German parliament votes on more bailout money.

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Euro zone officials played down reports of emerging plans to halve Greece's debt and recapitalize European banks, amid global pressure to take more decisive action.
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Only two days before a crucial vote in the German parliament on the expansion of the euro rescue fund on Thursday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Chancellor Angela Merkel gave fighting speeches in Berlin to present a unified front.

Their audience – Germany’s industry leaders assembled at the annual meeting of the German Industry Association (BDI) – applauded. But analysts remain skeptical.

“Yes, we can,” Mr. Papandreou shouted, calling the crisis engulfing his country a “unique chance for Greece to gain new power.” He insisted the efforts of his fellow countrymen to improve the situation deserved respect. “I can guarantee that Greece will fulfill all its international obligations.”

Chancellor Merkel was more than happy to pay respect to her Greek guest. The reforms under way in Greece were impressive, she said. “The most important thing now is for Greece to regain the confidence of the international community. The eurozone as a whole needs to stop being a union of debt, and turn into a union of stability.”

While many guests at the BDI meeting seemed impressed, economists reacted soberly.

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