January 26, 2015 / 8:26 PM / in 4 years

Italy PM says 'entire continent' watching new Greek PM Tsipras

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said all of Europe is watching the new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was sworn in earlier on Monday.

“The challenge you face is certainly difficult,” Renzi wrote in a congratulatory letter. “An entire continent is following the Greek political developments.”

Renzi has often called on the European Union to focus more on growth than austerity as he struggles to cut Italy’s 2-trillion-euro debt pile amid the third recession in six years.

Greece’s debt crisis threatened to topple Italy into default in 2011 as it forced borrowing costs in the euro zone periphery to soar.

All that makes Renzi a possible ally of the new Greek prime minister who won office pledging to renegotiate a 240-billion-euro bailout deal with creditors. The 40-year-old Renzi is same age as Tsipras, and both leaders come from left-wing parties.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Alison Williams

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