NEWS

Tsipras continues charm offensive in US

Greek left opposition leader Alexis Tsipras continues his tour of the United States on Thursday with a meeting in Washington with IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton.

On Wednesday Tsipras, who leads Greece's anti-bailout SYRIZA party, met with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rubin and the Treasury's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia, Christopher Smart.

Tsipras's US tour is seen as a bid to strengthen his anti-bailout party's international credibility.

During a speech at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday, the leftist leader sought to reassure an American audience that he wants Greece to remain in the euro area, insisting there is nothing to be afraid of should his SYRIZA party come to power.

“I hope to convince you that I’m not as dangerous as some are trying to say... Let me say this clearly: SYRIZA will keep Greece in the eurozone,” he said.

But he remained critical of the austerity policies -- spending cuts and tax increases -- imposed on the debt-wracked country which depends on bailout money from the IMF and the eurozone to remain afloat.

“The insistence on implementing this agreement is at odds with the laws of humanity,” he said of the EU/IMF memorandum.

Greece’s unemployment rate extended its record high, climbing to 26.8 percent in October as the country heads into a sixth year of recession, official data showed Thursday.

The country’s economic slump deepened in the third quarter of 2012, with output shrinking 7.2 percent on an annual basis.

Tsipras will later on Thursday travel to New York where he is scheduled to speak at Columbia University, the City University of New York and a gathering of Greek Americans.

Support for government coalition leader New Democracy stood at 28.2 percent against 27.9 percent for SYRIZA, according to a new poll released late on Tuesday.

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