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Greece/Germany

Greek PM meets Merkel as austerity protests continue

Demonstrators in Athens on Friday
Demonstrators in Athens on Friday

Germany will “not give one cent” to Greece, German Finance Minister Rainer Bruederle declared on Friday, ahead of a meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. Airports, public transport and education have all been hit by strikes as Greek MPs vote on the Socialist government’s austerity package.

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No public transport ran in Athens in the morning, all Greek airports were to close for a four-hour period and giant traffic jams clogged the centre of the capital. Teachers, police, state and private media groups were also hit by the strike.

"Papandreou said that he didn't want one cent -- in any case the German government will not give one cent," Bruederle said on the sidelines of a meeting with European Union industry commissioner Antonio Tajani.

Earlier he declared that “each country must solve its problems”.

Although she welcomed the austerity plan on Wednesday, Merkel is expected to tell Papandreou that Athens must clear up its own deficit. This week German media riled Greek MPs with editorials denouncing corruption in Greece and calls by MPs for the sale of Greek islands.

But there are reports that Berlin is drawing up contingency plans for bilateral aid, European action or help from the International Monetary Fund. And the influential Financial Times has welcomed the success of a five-billion-euro bond issue by the Greek government, while quoting experts who judge the interest rates it is paying unsustainable.

Papandreou is due to see French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Saturday. Sarkozy was reported to be more favourable to a European rescue package when the debt crisis broke.

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