Senior Merkel ally hints at more time for Greece

BERLIN Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:32am EDT

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BERLIN (Reuters) - A senior member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party hinted on Monday that Greece could be given more time for certain structural reforms if its international lenders suggested this.

Hermann Groehe is the latest senior member of Merkel's center-right coalition to suggest that Athens should get some leeway on agreed reforms. Horst Seehofer, leader of the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's CDU, indicated on Saturday Greece could get more time to implement them.

Greece is in its fifth year of recession and has struggled to meet fiscal targets set by the "troika" of the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.

A "troika" report, due to be presented shortly, is expected to show that Greece's financial shortfall is larger than previously thought and the country will need more time to deliver.

"If there are indications that savings targets have been met but that certain structural reforms need more time to be implemented, the question arises as to what recommendations the troika will make," Groehe, general secretary of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), said after a party board meeting.

He said he was not talking about giving the debt-crippled country "until the cows come home" and added that talks would need to be held on specific conditions for further aid.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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