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Obama: Greece needs policies focused on growth and jobs

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US President Barack Obama called Thursday for more growth-oriented policies in Greece, saying the austerity has not been adequate to revive the country's battered economy.

Speaking after talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Obama said he was confident in his visitor's commitment to much-needed reforms.

"What we also agreed to, is that in dealing with the challenges that Greece faces, we cannot simply look at austerity for a strategy," Obama said.

"It's important that we have a plan for fiscal consolidation to manage the debt," he told reporters.

"But it's also important that growth and jobs are our focus, because we know from history that those countries that have growth, countries where employment is high... people have an easier time easing the debt burdens than countries where people are feeling hopeless," Obama added.

"Prime Minister Samaras is committed to take the tough actions that are required, but also understands we want to make sure that Greek people see a light at the end of the tunnel."

Samaras echoed the message, as the Greek economy continues to contract under tough austerity policies required by its European Union-International Monetary Fund bailout program.

"We've gone through thick and thin, the sacrifices made by the Greek people are huge," he said.

"But they are not going to be in vain because what we now need is development, jobs and growth."

"Of course, we're going to do what has to be done," he added. "But emphasis has to be on growth and the creation of new jobs, especially for the youth."

Greece has struggled to meet targets set by the bailout program, which require it to boost tax collection, sell off state assets, and pare back government to narrow its deficit and cut borrowing needs.

But late last month,the IMF warned that because Greece was not meeting the goals, the bailout program itself was likely to need some 11 billion euros ($14.7 billion) more over the next two years.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130808/obama-greece-needs-policies-focused-growth-and-jobs