Clinton says Greece can overcome economic crisis
US foreign policy chief cites United States' interest in fuel reserves and investment whilst pushing for concensus
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed the US government's strong support for the efforts of the Greek people and the Greek government to overcome the debt crisis, during a press conference last week.
Clinton, who began a round of scheduled meetings with Greece's government, met with Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis to discuss Greece's leadership during her visit to Athens.
Clinton underlined that the government of Prime Minister George Papandreou had faced tough decisions and expressed Washington's support for his determination to carry out reforms.
Doing nothing would have far worse consequences than the current difficulties, she added, expressing her faith in the resilience of the Greek people.
"I applaud the Greek government on its willingness to take these difficult steps. Greece has inspired the world before, and I have every confidence that you are doing so again," she said.
She stressed that the Greek government was on the right path and that the reforms it had carried out were like "chemotherapy" and would make the country more competitive and more attractive to investors.
After her meeting with Lambrinidis, the Clinton attended a working dinner with the prime minister at his offices.
Sources in the government said her talks with Papandreou covered the economic crisis, foreign policy issues, the problems faced by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, energy issues and the 'Arab Spring', as well as Greece's role in the surrounding region.
There followed a meeting between Clinton and President Karolos Papoulias. In a wide-ranging interview with Skai TV, Hillary Clinton highlighted the potential of Greece as a "regional hub" for the transport of oil and natural gas.
Asked about possible investments by US firms, Clinton said she believed that there are "great opportunities" and highlighted the tourism sector and the relatively untapped renewable energy market.
As reforms aimed at improving the climate for would-be foreign investors are implemented, Greece will become increasingly "attractive" to investors, she said.
Clinton also commented on thorny diplomacy issues including a longstanding dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, saying that the Balkan state should not join the European Union before the row is settled.
Questioned about domestic politics in Greece and attempts by the government to secure cross-party consensus on austerity, Clinton said such efforts were crucial. She acknowledged the difficulties of getting rivals to sit down and talk but said, "It is always the best approach."
Before leaving Greece for India, Clinton met the leader of the main conservative opposition party New Democracy, Antonis Samaras.
The opposition leader expressed his party's opposition to the involvement of private sector bondholders in a new rescue package for Greece.
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