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Merkel, Sarkozy Propose Setting Up Separate Greek Account

Merkel, Sarkozy Propose Separate Account for Greece
Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, left, shakes hands with Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, center, as she arrives for their meeting at the Elysee palace in Paris. Photographer: Fabrice Dimier/Bloomberg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed setting up a separate account for Greek debt payments to reassure creditors.

Merkel said sequestering aid in such an account would give the Greek government guaranteed access to funds to finance its interest obligations. Sarkozy said it will “allow us to assure that the Greek debt is dealt with,” as both urged Greek leaders to agree to conditions set out by international creditors.

The German and French leaders, who spoke to reporters after a joint Cabinet meeting in Paris today, didn’t elaborate on the special fund. A Sarkozy aide said the idea was a work in progress and that part of financial assistance to Greece could be placed into a blocked account and earmarked for interest payments or principal.

European leaders and investors are awaiting the outcome of negotiations in Athens as Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos struck a tentative deal with political parties on austerity measures. The impending agreement is a condition for the completion of a 130 billion-euro ($171 billion) rescue package.

Greece’s efforts to win a second bailout from the so-called troika -- the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- have hung in the balance over the past three days as negotiations in Athens failed to clinch an agreement. Greece faces a 14.5 billion-euro bond payment on March 20.

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