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Greek PM ill, hope of summit action fades

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 02:17

June 25 - Both Greece's new prime minister and finance minister will miss a greatly-anticipated summit of European leaders due to illness, also delaying a visit by Athens' international lenders. The news is a blow for a summit where many hoped the leaders would find a definitive solution to the crisis. Joanna Partridge reports.

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Greece's new government gets down to business - but without the new prime minister or finance minister. They're both ill and won't attend this week's crucial EU Summit either which many hoped would allow Athens to ease some of its bailout terms. It's also led to fears of another leaders' summit which fails to tackle the crisis. Antonis Samaras had eye surgery at this hospital at the weekend while Vassilis Rapanos was hospitalised with nausea just before being sworn in. The foreign minister and outgoing finance minister will travel to Brussels instead. But the problems forced the so-called troika of international lenders to delay a visit to Athens. Dominic Johnson is from Somerset Capital Management. SOUNDBITE: Dominic Johnson, Partner and Chief Executive, Somerset Capital Management, saying (English): "The problem remains, the patient is still very sick and I haven't really seen anything concrete that makes me change my mind about the future viability of Greece either as a nation which is solvent or as a meaningful part of the European Union." Athens faces a difficult test in Brussels - as euro zone paymaster Germany seems especially resistant to giving them any leeway. Aside from Greece, analysts expect the EU leaders to bring general support for the development of a roadmap towards fiscal union. No major decisions on debt mutualisation or joint liability are expected. But James Shugg from Westpac says he expects to be disappointed again and is calling for the ECB to step up its bond purchasing programme and provide more cheap loans for banks. SOUNDBITE: James Shugg, European Economist, Westpac, saying (English): "Why not just combine the two and say they stand ready to buy the trillions of bonds. They may not have to do it, just the fact that they say they do it, I think would give the markets a lot more confidence that the big guns are being brought out. It's just ridiculous that there's an awesomely powerful institution that's not doing what other central banks around the world are comfortably doing." Financial markets have reduced their expectations of concrete progress at the summit. European stocks slid again on Monday morning, as investors fear a definitive solution to the crisis is still a long way off. Joanna Partridge, Reuters

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Greek PM ill, hope of summit action fades

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 02:17