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Aid To Greece Tied To Decision On Euro


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy say the Greek referendum should focus on whether the country wants to stay in the euro zone.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy say the Greek referendum should focus on whether the country wants to stay in the euro zone.

The leaders of France and Germany say Greece will get no more bailout help until Athens decides on its future within the euro zone.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela were speaking after emergency talks with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou whose decision to hold a referendum on a bailout deal has angered European leaders.

After the talks in Cannes France -- site of a G-20 summit starting later today -- Sarkozy said the rest of Europe was ready to help Greece but only if it meets "its commitments".

"We are ready to help Greece because solidarity is the cornerstone of the European construction as is also the principle of loyalty but that implies that Greece from its part, must meet its commitments," Sarkozy said at a press conference.

Papandreou's shock announcement came just a week after Euro zone leaders agreed to hand Athens a second, 130-billion-euro bailout and a 50-percent write-down on its enormous debt.

Merkel said Europe wanted to help Greece, but ultimately stabilizing the euro was more important.

Papandreou said the referendum could take place on Dec. 4 and would be focused on "whether we want to remain in the euro zone".

Also taking part in the talks were IMF chief Christine Lagarde and other top European Union and eurozone officials.

Lagarde said she was pleased to hear the referendum would take place soon.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg and chairman of the Eurogroup, was blunt.

"Greece had 8 billion - Greece has lost 8 billion after having made a decision to put all these questions to a referendum," he told journalists. "That's a pity."

The European debt crisis and Greece are expected to dominate discussions when the G20 summit of leading nations and emerging economies opens later today in Cannes.

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to express U.S. concerns the Greek referendum could undo EU efforts to contain its debt crisis when he holds talks on the sidelines of the summit with Sarkozy and Merkel.

compiled from agency reports
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