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Greece's Tsipras 'Optimistic' on Talks with EU

  • VOA News

FILE - Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras poses for the photographers after taking a secular oath at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Jan. 26, 2015.

FILE - Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras poses for the photographers after taking a secular oath at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Jan. 26, 2015.

Greece's new leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Wednesday he is optimistic that his country can convince its international lenders to ease the terms on Athens' massive bailouts.

Tsipras met with key European Union leaders in Brussels, including EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker, and called for working out a four-year reform plan to boost the struggling Greek economy.

The new Greek leader said his country respects EU financial rules, but believes that the tough austerity measures demanded by the country's creditors in exchange for nearly $300 billion in loans need to be changed.

"We want to recorrect this framework," Tsipras said, "not to smash this framework and we believe that in this framework we could find a common viable solution for our peoples, for our common perspective. I am very optimistic that these discussions that were in a good way - of course we don't have already an agreement - but we are in a good direction to find a viable agreement."

Tsipras is visiting several European capitals looking for support to cut the country's massive debt, or at least change the repayment terms, and to end austerity measures that have cut wages and pensions, boosted taxes and forced Athens to sell off government assets.

Meanwhile, new Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis met Wednesday in Frankfurt with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and appealed for help to keep Greek banks solvent.

Varoufakis said he told the bank president that the Greek government has an "utter and unwavering determination that it can't possibly be business as usual in Greece." He said Greece is in the midst of "a major humanitarian crisis."

Varoufakis heads to Berlin on Thursday to meet with German officials, who have been the most insistent on Greece meeting the existing terms of its bailouts rather than easing them.

In an interview to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Varoufakis said that Greece has started negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over a plan to swap its sovereign debt for growth-linked bonds.

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