Berlin plays down flexibility clause in Greek deal

BERLIN Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:07am EDT

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's finance ministry said on Friday a clause in the Greek bailout deal allowing more time for reform targets in the case of a worse-than-expected recession was not legally binding, further dampening Athens' hopes of getting some leeway.

Finance ministry spokesman Martin Kotthaus read out the clause saying talks with the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund about Greece's fiscal targets could be reopened in such a case.

But he then added that the passage "has no legally binding status". He did not elaborate.

Kotthaus was talking shortly before a visit by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to Berlin, where Samaras was expected to ask Chancellor Angela Merkel to support giving his country extra time to meet the conditions of its bailout deal. (Reporting by Stephen Brown, Annika Breidthardt and Sarah Marsh)

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