Merkel, Hollande to meet Greek PM in Riga

AFP , Thursday 21 May 2015

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on Thursday as an end of June deadline looms over a crucial debt deal for Athens.

"There will be a meeting of Merkel, Hollande and Tsipras after the dinner at the Riga summit," a German official said, referring to an EU-Eastern Partnership meeting taking place in the Latvian capital.

Confirming the report as he arrived at the dinner, Hollande said the three leaders would hold "a friendly discussion" aimed at "outlining solutions" for debt-ridden Greece.

Greece's radical-left government and its international creditors have been locked in talks for months over reforms needed to release a final 7.2 billion euros ($8.2 billion) in bailout funds that Athens needs to avoid defaulting on its debt and possibly crashing out of the eurozone.

Hollande stressed it was up to the European Union -- not France or Germany -- to find a solution to the crisis.

"It will not be here, in Riga, that we will negotiate the question of Greece, but it is true that it allows us to prepare for the upcoming deadline, particularly for the Eurogroup meeting at the end of the month or in early June," the French president told journalists.

"Along with Mr Tsipras, we want to find solutions that will give confidence and release the... funds," he added.

"We (France and Germany) are working to make things easier, and at the same time to pass on some messages that are useful for Greece and for Europe," Hollande said.

On June 5, Greece must make a new debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund.

But it has been less than 10 days since Athens raided an emergency account to pay its last instalment of 750 million euros ($834 million), and it may not be able to meet its next deadline.

On Tuesday, Merkel and Hollande joined growing calls for Greece to quickly reach a deal with its creditors and avoid default.

The EU and IMF are demanding tough labour market and pension reforms from Greece in return for the bailout funds, however the reforms contradict the election promises that swept Tsipras's party into power.

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