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Merkel says won't discuss new Greek request before referendum

01 july 2015, 10:02

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that Germany won't enter into new aid negotiations with Athens before Greece's weekend referendum, while her deputy urged the left-wing government to cancel the plebiscite, AFP reports.

"Before the referendum Germany can't negotiate a new request" for assistance, Merkel was quoted as saying by a lawmaker of her conservative Christian Democrats.

Her comments came after crisis-hit Greece sought to revive collapsed talks and requested a two-year rescue deal with the EU, just hours before the European part of its international bailout expires.

Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem had said eurozone finance ministers would hold an emergency conference call at 1700 GMT to discuss Greece's last-minute proposal.

European stock markets, which had been recovering, slumped shortly after Merkel's comments.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel of the centre-left Social Democrats also suggested it was too late to salvage a deal before Greece's aid programme expires late Tuesday.

He urged left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to cancel a Sunday referendum in which he has asked voters to reject EU-IMF reform demands in return for bailout cash.

Gabriel said that, in principle, "we have always said that of course the door always remains open" for talks.

"But you have to know that the second aid programme has ended, that the European Central Bank can't keep financing Greece and that a third aid programme has to be negotiated in an entirely new process," he told news channel NTV. "That certainly won't be easy."

"The best thing would be for Mr Tsipras to cancel the referendum. Then we could resume talks very quickly. If that isn't the case then that has to be done after the referendum."

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was due to join the teleconference.

Although Schaeuble can join the consultations, any binding decisions on Greek aid would require approval by the German parliament, a Berlin official stressed.

Merkel said earlier Tuesday at a press conference that, looking ahead, the "door is open" to further talks with Athens.

"Of course we won't cut off the lines of communication after midnight -- we wouldn't be the European Union if we did that," she said.

"That means the door is open for talks but that is all I can say." 

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