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Geithner Says Europe’s Leaders Need Unity on Greek Debt Crisis

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
Timothy Geithner, U.S. treasury secretary, listens during a discussion at the Wall Street Journal CFO Network conference in Washington, D.C. on June 21, 2011. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner criticized European leaders for failing to speak with one voice on resolving Greece’s debt crisis.

“It would be very helpful to have Europe speak with a clearer, more unified voice on the strategy,” Geithner said today in Washington. “I think it’s very hard for people to invest in Europe, within Europe and outside Europe, to understand what the strategy is when you have so many people talking.”

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou faces a confidence vote in his government today that may determine whether Greece becomes the first euro-area country to default. Euro-area finance chiefs, pushing Greece to pass the laws needed to cut its deficit and sell state assets, yesterday left open whether the country will get the full 12 billion euros ($17 billion) promised for July as part of last year’s 110 billion-euro international rescue package.

Speaking at a forum sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, Geithner said Europe has to agree on a strategy on Greece and communicate that to the markets.

Geithner said he told Group of Seven leaders over the weekend that the European Union has “a very substantial financial arsenal” at its disposal and needs to ensure that it is “available to be deployed to do the kind of things they need to do to make this process work.”

“That means make it available so banks can be recapitalized where they need capital, to make sure there is a funding available to the banking system,” he said. There “is no reason why Europe cannot manage these problems.”

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