NEWS

French leader throws support behind Greece

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday appeared to throw his support behind Greece, telling visiting Prime Minister George Papandreou that he would push for greater European solidarity with the debt-ridden country and its efforts to avert a default that would shake the eurozone.

?It?s impossible to let Greece fall, for moral and economic reasons,? Sarkozy said after talks in Paris, adding that he was convinced by Greek pledges to fulfill promises to foreign lenders and slash the country?s budget deficit.

Sarkozy said he would meet with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel in the coming days ?to discuss ways and means to accelerate the economic integration of the eurozone economy.?

He added that he would also push for Greece to receive rescue funding without delay despite concerns among some member states about foot-dragging by the Greek government in the implementation of the reforms. ?When one member of a family is in trouble, the other members must act to help them,? Sarkozy added.

Papandreou, for his part, sought to stress the strength of his resolve. ?Greece is determined – I myself, our government, the Greek people – are determined to make the necessary changes,? he said, adding that ?any country that wants to can send experts to see what we are doing, the sacrifices the Greek people are making to change their country.?

Papandreou?s meeting with Sarkozy came a day after German lawmakers approved a second bailout package for Greece, hammered out by EU leaders in July as part of a broader eurozone rescue fund. The plan was yesterday also approved by Austria, which becomes the 14th of the 17 eurozone members to do so.