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German Foreign Minister Steinmeier hails `improved tone` in Greek ties

 German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed an improved tone in discussions with debt-mired Greece, after meeting visiting Greek premier Alexis Tsipras Tuesday.

Berlin: German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed an improved tone in discussions with debt-mired Greece, after meeting visiting Greek premier Alexis Tsipras Tuesday.

Steinmeier spoke with Tsipras at his hotel in central Berlin one day after the Greek leader held crunch talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which both called for an end to the bitter recriminations the countries have traded in recent weeks.

"I am pleased that the tone in the German-Greek talks in recent days has clearly changed and clearly improved," Steinmeier, who also met his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias in Berlin late Sunday, told reporters.

He said a warmer relationship was not a "solution" to the debt crisis "but it is undoubtedly key for serious discussions with each other in the coming days".

Steinmeier said he stressed to Tspiras that the "fiscal policy problems of Greece must be addressed in the context of a European-Greek conversation".

"The impression should not be created in Greece that everything can be resolved in the context of the German-Greek relationship. That is not the case," he said.

Tsipras and Merkel on Monday urged an end to the vicious "stereotypes" and name-calling that have threatened to rip the eurozone apart, at a press conference following an initial round of talks.

After weeks of acrimony between the new radical-left government in Greece and Germany, the paymaster for eurozone bailout programmes, both leaders were at pains to stress their common ground on the debt crisis.

Tspiras nevertheless blamed the swingeing budget cuts championed by Merkel for hobbling the Greek economy and exacerbating unemployment and poverty, while the German leader insisted reforms were essential to find a sustainable solution. 

On Tuesday, Merkel told members of her conservative parliamentary group that the talks with Tsipras had been "good and constructive" but added that the pressure on Greece was mounting. 

"We`re running out of time," she said, according to a source at the meeting.

Greece is desperately seeking the last tranche of a 240-billion-euro ($255-billion) EU-IMF bailout, amounting to about seven billion euros, but Brussels is refusing until it first approves Athens`s new package of reforms to its crisis-hit economy.

Tsipras also met with leaders of Germany`s leftist opposition and Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the centre-left Social Democrats.

Gabriel said later that he was confident the tension between Berlin and Athens was easing and that the priority now was to "stabilise" Greece and the whole eurozone.

"What we are experiencing, thank God, is a normalisation of the relationship between Greece and Germany," he said, according to German news agency DPA.

"We want to help but first the Greek government must pursue policies that uphold the agreed goals and programmes," he said, referring to reform commitments made to creditors.

Tsipras later told reporters shortly before his departure that he offered his "sympathies" to the German people for the plane crash in the French Alps that claimed 150 lives including an estimated 67 German nationals. 

From Zee News

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