Obama urges balancing of austerity with growth and job creation in Greece

Obama urges balancing of austerity with growth and job creation in Greece

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras became on Thursday the first Greek leader since the country was bailed out in May 2010 to visit the White House, where he held talks with Barack Obama on a range of issues, which were dominated by Greece’s economic difficulties.

Obama praised the effort being made by Greece with regard to its fiscal adjustment program but stressed the limits of austerity and the need for growth. “We want to help as much as we can,” said Obama after the talks, which lasted for about an hour.

Obama’s comments to the media in the Oval Office regarding the urgent need to tackle unemployment in Greece, which reached 27.6 percent in May according to figures published yesterday, met with Samaras’s approval. The Greek prime minister nodded as the US president made his point.

Before meeting Obama, Samaras held talks with Secretary of State John Kerry. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry “recognized the difficult but essential reforms Greece is taking to restore market confidence and fuel economic growth” and expressed US solidarity with the Greek people.

Earlier, Samaras met with the editorial board of the Washington Post and expressed confidence that Greece could play a geopolitical role “as a bastion of stability” in the eastern Mediterranean.

He joked with editors that if he had visited a year ago, when Greece’s political crisis had peaked, the country would have been regarded as unstable. “Now we look good compared to the region,” the Post quoted him as quipping.

Samaras also insisted that Athens was wooing would-be investors with “the red-carpet treatment rather than the usual Greek red-tape procedure,” according to the Post, which noted that the Greek premier subsequently flew to New York to meet with investment fund managers before returning to Washington.

Samaras is due to head back to New York on Friday, where he is to meet with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Greek-American entrepreneurs. He is also due to meet with the editorial board of the New York Times.

Πηγή: Ekathimerini.com

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