German foreign minister vows support for Greece

In an exclusive interview with Skai broadcast on Monday, visiting German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle emphasized the importance of Greek authorities pushing through reforms to boost competitiveness and put the debt-wracked economy back on the path to health and pledged to help draw German investors to Greece.

Westerwelle, who visited Athens following the interruption of talks on a crucial debt swap deal on Friday and just before a scheduled visit by representatives of Greece?s foreign creditors, struck a reassuring tone about the country?s prospects. ?Greece is a member of the European Union and belongs to Europe?s history as well as its future,? he said.

The German minister avoided commenting on the talks on private sector involvement in a Greek bailout (dubbed PSI), which are due to resume on Wednesday, noting instead that he wanted to convey ?a message of encouragement to the Greek people but also the expectation that reforms will continue.?

Westerwelle, who met with his Greek counterpart Stavros Dimas, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Sunday, also discussed the EU?s plans to impose an embargo on oil imports from Iran. According to sources, Dimas explained to Westerwelle that Greece?s objection to the immediate imposition of an oil embargo did not constitute a political stance but had arisen from the country?s difficult economic situation.

Greek firms have found it difficult to get favorable terms from suppliers in other countries whereas Iran has been willing to extend credit to Greece, as well as Spain and Italy.

Westerwelle is said to have expressed understanding for Greece?s predicament.

According to sources, Greek authorities have received assurances from Brussels that existing oil deals will be exempt from an embargo.

EU foreign ministers are to meet in Brussels next Monday to confirm the imposition of an embargo on oil from Iran.

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