Schaeuble Said to Keep Quiet on Greece as Sapin Touts Compromise

Wolfgang Schaeuble And Angela Merkel
Wolfgang Schaeuble speaks with Angela Merkel following a European Policy speech in Berlin, June 18. Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble stayed largely silent during talks about Greece Thursday, leaving others to criticize the debt-laden country as France pushed for an 11th-hour agreement, two people familiar with the matter said.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin urged the group of finance ministers, representing the governments that are collectively Greece’s biggest creditors, not to give up on talks that are almost five months old.

“We need to end the idea that there is a monstrous difference between the two sides,” Sapin said on his way into the meeting in Luxembourg. “There are differences but they are surmountable”

The remarks underline how France, after cleaving to Germany in recent months in dealing with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s Greek government, is returning to its role as Europe’s voice of conciliation.

The meeting of the 19 finance ministers broke up without further progress toward an agreement, handing the challenge on to euro-area leaders who will hold an emergency summit in Brussels on Monday to try and force a settlement on Greece.

Euro-area ministers are still waiting for “credible proposals” from the Greek government, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said on CNN after the meeting.

“The mood in the room more or less reflected the complicated situation we are in,” Dombrovskis said. “Currently there is no agreement”

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