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Greece Says EU Bailout Deal Is 'Great Relief'

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos (file photo)

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos (file photo)

Greece's finance minister says a decision by European countries to provide a second bailout loan package to Athens is a "great relief" for the country's crisis-hit economy.

Evangelos Venizelos made the remark in Athens, a day after eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pledged bailout loans worth 109 billion euros ($155 billion), on top of the 110 billion euros in loans granted a year ago.

"It is a big relief for the Greek economy, and this relief will gradually pass on to the real economy," Venizelos said. "But this relief should not in any way mean that we must relax our efforts."

Venizelos promised to press ahead with unpopular cost-cutting measures aimed at generating a budget surplus, not including the interest payments due on its existing debts, starting next year.

European and Asian stock markets continued to rise, with banks in particular benefiting from the new bailout plan, while the euro rose further against the dollar. Optimism also drove oil prices up.

compiled from agency reports