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US Supports Greece's Austerity Measures

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) walks with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou after their bilateral meeting on 8 March 2010 at the State Department in Washington DC.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States supports Greece's efforts to deal with its financial crisis. She adds that Greece has not asked the United States for assistance to get its economy back on track. Clinton made the comments on Monday at a joint press appearance with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou at the State Department.

After meeting with the Greek prime minister, Clinton praised Mr. Papandreou for his efforts to improve his nation's economy. "Among our most pressing, shared challenges today is the global economic crisis that has thrown people out of work, shuttered businesses, and drained government coffers in both the United States and Greece. I know these are difficult days in Greece. But I want to commend the prime minister for his leadership in tackling the challenge that he confronted upon taking office," she said.

Clinton said the United States supports Greece and the tough economic measures it is taking.

The Greek government has promised to slash its budget deficit from nearly 13 percent of gross domestic product, more than four times the E.U. limit, to less than three percent by 2012.

Mr. Papandreou says the Greek government has made very difficult decisions to ensure the economy is viable . . ."to make sure that we have put in place the necessary steps so that we can then restructure our economy, make our economy a green economy, one which is also important for attracting investment, developing our tourist industry, developing our agriculture, our services, but also making our society more just and more transparent and more open."

Mr. Papandreou said the United States and the European Union should crack down on financial market speculators, saying they are pushing his nation's borrowing costs to unsustainable levels.

Clinton said Greece has not asked the United States for financial assistance, but to work within the G-20 to press for additional regulatory changes in the financial markets.

Analysts say Greece's national debt is risky, and lenders, in turn, can charge higher interest rates. The prime minister said the interest rates Greece pays are double those of Germany, and that these rates make it harder for Athens to pay down its debt and get the economy back on stable footing.

Prime Minister Papandreou recently met with other European leaders. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has promised that eurozone nations, the 16 countries using the euro as their currency, will not let the Greek economy fail.

The Greek prime minister is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama on Tuesday.