Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and US President Barack Obama had a brief exchange on Tuesday night during a function organized by the US leader for foreign dignitaries on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, discussing Greece’s debt and the implementation of reforms linked to the country’s third bailout.
Obama reiterated Washington’s commitment to keeping Greece in the eurozone and the two leaders discussed Europe’s refugee crisis and the Cyprus problem, Kathimerini understands.
In a statement, the White House said there was no formal meeting between the two men, noting that “there could have been a casual, unplanned interaction somewhere on the margins of the United Nations.”
Regional and bilateral issues are to be discussed in detail on Thursday when Tsipras and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias are to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry.
On Tuesday Tsipras decided not to participate, as an observer, in a summit chaired by Obama on the fight against ISIS and violent extremism. The Greek delegation was irked at the fact that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with which Greece has a longstanding dispute regarding the Balkan state’s official name, took part in the event as the “Republic of Macedonia.”
Tsipras continued his bilateral contacts on Tuesday, meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. Xi invited Tsipras to visit China in the coming months following talks that are said to have focused on boosting trade relations.
Meanwhile, back in Athens, opposition parties were critical of Tsipras’s performance on Sunday night at an event organized in New York by former US president Bill Clinton.
New Democracy’s interim leader Evangelos Meimarakis accused Tsipras of attending the event “unprepared” and took a jab at the premier over his less-than-perfect English.
“It’s not a bad thing to have an interpreter with you,” he said.
A statement by ND was harsher, accusing Tsipras of “defaming and undermining” the country after saying that investors have to pay under the table.