Greece offers olive branch to seek allies

Greece’s anti-austerity government began a European charm offensive Sunday aimed at building consensus on renegotiating its 240-billion-euro ($270 billion) bailout, even as Germany insisted it would not support any debt relief.

Just hours before Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis headed to Paris to seek support for a renegotiation of the bailout, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he believed a deal could be reached with the EU and IMF.

“No side is seeking conflict and it has never been our intention to act unilaterally on Greek debt,” Tsipras said in a statement issued to Bloomberg News.

Varoufakis has talks scheduled with French Finance Minister Michel Sapin and Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, before heading to London and Rome.

Sapin has already said the EU should be open to discussions with the new Greek government on restructuring its debt or extending the bailout terms.

In its first meeting with creditors since it took office a week ago, the Greek government clashed with the head of the eurozone finance ministers on Friday over its plans to rethink its rescue package and to halve Greece’s debt.

Tsipras, who will visit Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and French President Francois Hollande next week, said his plans did not mean Greece would renege on its commitments to the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

“On the contrary, it means that we need time to breathe and create our own medium-term recovery programme,” he said.

This includes aiming to balance the budget — excluding debt repayments — and clamping down on tax evasion, corruption and policies which favor only a wealthy few, he said.