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US 'monitoring closely' as new Greek PM shakes up policies

29 january 2015, 14:39

 The White House said Wednesday it was "monitoring closely" events in Greece, where a new hard-left government has vowed to reopen the terms of a massive financial bailout and stated opposition to more sanctions against Russia, AFP reports.

 US President Barack Obama rang Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to congratulate him on his recent election victory, a win that has put Athens on a potential collision course with its European neighbors and with Washington.

Tsipras's promise to renegotiate the terms of a 240-billion-euro ($269 billion) European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank bailout have put him at odds with Germany and other creditors.

"The president noted that the United States, as a longstanding friend and ally, looks forward to working closely with the new Greek government to help Greece return to a path of long-term prosperity," a White House statement said.

Standard and Poor's put Greece's "B" credit rating on watch for a possible downgrade, warning that some of the policies of the new anti-austerity government could deepen a festering crisis.

"It is definitely a situation that we are monitoring closely," said White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz.

"It is important to note that European leaders have been clear that they want Greece to remain in the euro area, while respecting its commitments to reform. The United States supports those efforts."

Tsipras's government has also voiced opposition to further sanctions on Russia because of Moscow's actions in Ukraine, putting Greece in opposition to many of its European partners and the White House too.

Late Tuesday, Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed a "significant increase" in violence in eastern Ukraine, where Russia is accused of stoking fighting, and warned more sanctions could be on the way.

The White House said Merkel and Obama had noted "Russia's material support for the separatists... and they agreed on the need to hold Russia accountable for its actions."

Merkel and Obama also discussed the need for a "robust package" of financial support for Ukraine.


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