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Papandreou Open Talks on Crisis Government

George Papandreou Saturday scrambled to form a national crisis government to implement a crucial eurozone rescue package, fresh from winning a nail-biting confidence vote.
After an hour-long meeting with President Carolos Papoulias, Papandreou emerged to tell a scrum of reporters that contacts would begin “very soon” with other parties to forge a government of “broad consensus”.
“I came today to discuss my intention to contribute in a decisive fashion to a government of broad consensus,” he said.
The aim of this unity government would be to push through the EU bailout plan agreed last week in Brussels designed to keep the debt-wracked country afloat, he added.
“The application of this deal is the precondition for us staying in the euro. It’s as important as that,” he said.
However, it remained unclear whether he would be able to secure the support of the opposition conservatives, whose leader Antonis Samaras steadfastly stuck to his demand for early elections, which Papandreou said would be catastrophic.
Ahead of the talks, Papandreou had told Papoulias that the lack of consensus in Greek politics risked raising “doubts amongst our European partners about our desire to stay in the eurozone.”
Under intense pressure from European partners and facing a rebellion within his own socialist ranks, Papandreou indicated in a half-hour address to MPs in the early hours of Saturday that he would step aside.
“I am not interested in a chair, the last thing I am interested in is whether I am re-elected,” said Papandreou, who swept to a landslide national election victory in 2009.
But Samaras defiantly held out for snap elections, raising the spectre of renewed political deadlock in the country, which could delay the payment of much-needed aid and intensify the eurozone debt crisis.
“The mask has fallen. Papandreou has rejected our proposals and he must take responsibility for that,” said Samaras, who heads the opposition New Democracy party.
“Elections are now the only answer.”
(source: AFP, AP)

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