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Greek PM Samaras to miss EU summit following surgery

Greece’s new Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will miss this week’s EU summit while he recovers from eye surgery, according to a government spokesman quoted by BBC. He underwent routine surgery on Saturday for a damaged retina, with the operation said to have been a success. Mr Samaras was sworn in as prime minister only last Wednesday to head a three-party pro-austerity coalition.The “troika” of rescue lenders have also postponed a planned visit to Athens due to Mr Samaras’ poor health.Inspectors from the EU, European Central Bank and IMF had been due to review Greece’s progress in meeting bailout conditions on Monday. The new date for the trip will be determined later in the week. Greece is under huge international pressure to fulfil bailout terms.The new governing coalition consists of two “pro-memorandum” parties who broadly support continuing the austerity and reforms demanded by Greece’s lenders – Mr Samaras’ centre-right New Democracy and the beleaguered socialist Pasok party – as well as the more sceptical Democratic Left.The new government is seeking to water down the requirements imposed on it by other EU countries and by the International Monetary Fund, including an extension to the deadline for it to reduce its budget deficit by at least two years, to 2016.The Greek reform programme was expected to be a major item on the agenda of the two-day EU summit in Brussels that begins this Thursday. A government spokesman said that Mr Samaras cannot attend because doctors have forbidden him from flying, and that the new foreign minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos, will go in his place. To compound the government’s difficulties, the new finance minister Vassilis Rapanos is in hospital after apparently fainting on Friday.

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