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September 20, 2021

Greece hit by general strike as EU piles on pressure

ATHENS – Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the political leaders backing his interim government were trying again on Tuesday to agree on the cutbacks needed to win a new bailout deal and avoid defaulting on its debts next month.

Greek party leaders faced crunch talks on Tuesday to secure a new international bailout and avoid a chaotic debt default, caught between EU demands that they accept painful reforms now and a national strike against more austerity, CTV news informs.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos negotiated through most of the night with Greece’s European Union and IMF lenders, ending at 4 a.m. (2 a.m. British time) when the 24-hour strike was about to begin, closing ports and tourist sites and disrupting public transport.

Mr. Papademos, a technocrat parachuted in to lead the Greek government late last year, must persuade leaders of the three parties in his coalition government to accept the EU/IMF conditions for the €130-billion ($170-billion U.S.) rescue.

“We must find a solution today,” said one government official before the leaders’ talks.

With Greece’s future in the euro zone in question, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said time was of the essence and there are mounting signs that euro zone officials have lost patience. They say the full package must be agreed with Greece and approved by the euro zone, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund before Feb. 15.

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