Germany's Merkel to visit Greece next week

  • Associated Press
  • October 5, 2012 - 4:41 AM

BERLIN - Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is to visit Greece next week as Athens works to convince its creditors to pay the next installment of its bailout package.

Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the chancellor will meet Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens on Tuesday.

Seibert said Friday that Merkel's visit follows an invitation that Samaras made when he visited Berlin in August.

Samaras said in a German newspaper interview published Friday that Greece will run out of money at the end of November if it doesn't receive the next planned installment of its bailout loans.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Greece will run out of money at the end of November if it doesn't receive the next planned installment of its bailout loans, the country's prime minister has said.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said he's confident that the money will arrive on time, but in an interview with the German daily Handelsblatt published Friday warned that it is "very difficult" to make further cuts to pensions and wages that the country's debt inspectors are seeking.

Greece has relied on bailouts from increasingly impatient international creditors since May 2010. In return, it imposed a punishing austerity program, repeatedly slashing incomes, hiking taxes and raising retirement ages.

Officials from the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank — the so-called "troika" — are currently in Greece assessing the country's progress in fulfilling the terms for receiving the aid.

If their report doesn't clear the way for the payment of the next (EURO)31 billion ($40 billion) tranche of the country's bailout, Greece could be forced to default on its debts and perhaps leave the euro. It's unclear when a decision will come.

Asked how long Greece can hold out without that payment, Samaras was quoted as saying: "Until the end of November. Then the till will be empty."

Samaras said Greece is pressing ahead with budget consolidation, working on speeding up privatization and trying to attract foreign investors. But he conceded that there are difficulties in negotiations with the troika.

"The troika is demanding above all further cuts to pensions and wages. That is very difficult, because we are already bleeding," he said. "The existing cuts already go to the bone. We are at the limit of what we can expect of our population."

The conservative Samaras leads a three-party coalition government that was put together after two elections earlier this year.

"People know that this government means Greece's last chance," the prime minister was quoted as saying. "We will make it. If we fail, chaos awaits us."

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