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Greek Politicians Agree On New Prime Minister


Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has agreed to step down.
Greece's two main political parties have agreed on an interim prime minister to take the crisis-hit country out of deadlock and avert a looming bankruptcy.

State television NET said that the new prime minister will be named on November 8 along with the rest of the cabinet, following the conclusions of negotiations between outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou and main opposition leader Antonis Samaras.

The new cabinet would lead the country until early elections, which could be held as early as February.

The government would have to approve and implement an EU bailout agreement aimed at helping Greece avert a default and remain in the eurozone.

Lucas Papademos, a former deputy head of the European Central Bank, and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos are considered favorites for the premier job.

Venizelos spoke to journalists before a meeting in Brussels with the EU's commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Olli Rehn.

"We have a new government of national unity and of national responsibility," Venizelos said. "This is the proof of our commitment and of our national capacity to implement the program and to reconstruct our country."

Greece's conservative opposition wants to keep the outgoing socialist government's economic team, including Venizelos, in the new coalition for the sake of continuity in a time of crisis, a party official said.

A government spokesman said plans call for the new power-sharing government to be sworn in and to hold a confidence vote in parliament within one week.

The Finance Ministry said the major political forces also agreed that February 19 was the most suitable date for the holding of elections after the bailout has been approved.

Under the 130 billion-euro ($179 billion) bailout deal, Greece would also see 50 percent of its huge sovereign debt canceled. In return, Greek authorities would have to to implement strict austerity measures, which are opposed by many ordinary Greeks.

EU finance ministers were to meet later in Brussels to discuss the disbursement of the next 8 billion-euro ($11 billion) installment of the bailout.

An EU spokesman, Amadeu Alfataj, said the ministers needed "clarity" about developments in Greece to proceed with the discussion.

compiled from agency reports

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