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French, German Leaders Cite 'Progress' Ahead Of EU Debt Crisis Summit

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (left) with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (left) with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

European Union leaders have opened a summit in Brussels aimed at resolving the eurozone debt crisis.

EU leaders hope the summit will help to reach an agreement on a plan to reinforce the euro and European banks and assure markets that the Greek debt crisis will not spread to other heavily indebted euro countries such as Spain and Italy.

Reports say that one of the many issues being discussed is what percentage of their Greek debt holdings will banks be forced to accept as losses -- with reports saying the figure could be at least 50 percent.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou told reporters on his way into the meeting on October 23 that the crisis is no longer just a Greek crisis.

"The crisis is a European crisis," he said. "So now is the time that we as Europeans need to act decisively and effectively."

Greece is currently waiting to receive an eight billion euro loan tranche from the EU and International Monetary Fund to help it avoid default.

Earlier, the leaders of France and Germany said "progress" has been made toward agreeing on a comprehensive plan to handle the debt crisis in the eurozone.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke as they held talks with top European Union officials ahead of the summit opening on October 23.

Sarkozy told reporters in Brussels he was confident that a deal would be reached by October 26. He described the meetings as "absolutely crucial" and insisted that "solutions must be found."

"The financial situation must be stabilized and this financial crisis must be resolved," he said. "We are constantly holding meetings. I have already been in touch with the Chancellor [German Chancellor Angela Merkel] this afternoon [October 22]. There has already been some progress."

compiled from agency reports