Merkel offers Greek PM no extra time
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras promised to yield results.
BERLIN - Angela Merkel reassured Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday that she wanted his country to stay in the euro zone, but gave no sign of ceding to his pleas for more time to meet the tough terms of Athens' international bailout.
Samaras, who made clear he was asking Berlin and Paris for more "air" to implement the reforms rather than going cap in hand for more cash, promised to get results and to narrow Greece's "fiscal deficit and the deficit in confidence".
"We're not asking for more money. We're asking for breaths of air in this dive we are taking," Samaras told a joint news conference with Merkel.
But the most he got from the German chancellor was a promise "that we will not make premature judgments but will await reliable evidence", by which she meant the "troika" report by Greece's international creditors due this autumn.
Samaras is likely to get much the same response from French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Saturday. Hollande and Merkel coordinated their stance on Greece over dinner in Berlin on Thursday evening.
Trying to emulate the "Merkozy" partnership under Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative Merkel and the Socialist French president showed a united front, insisting Greece must meet its targets before any new discussion of terms.
Merkel stuck doggedly on Friday to her policy of deferring to the troika report from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, though she did say that she and Hollande were in no doubt they wanted Greece to stay in the single currency.
"Greece is part of the euro zone and I want Greece to remain part of the euro zone," Merkel said.
European shares and the euro weakened on Merkel's cautious response to Samaras and fading hopes of ECB action to prop up the bonds of struggling euro zone countries.