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Feb 9, 2015 5:48 AM

Markets unnerved by Greek leader's tough talk on bailout

The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece (AP) Investors hammered Greece's markets on Monday after the country's new government renewed a pledge to seek bailout debt forgiveness, setting up a clash with European lenders.

Amid wider European losses, Greek shares were down nearly 5 percent in early trading, while borrowing rates were back up, a sign investors are more worried about a sovereign default. The yield on the country's 3-year-bonds rose above 18 percent.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in his inaugural speech in parliament late Sunday described an election pledge by his left wing Syriza party to seek debt restructuring as "irrevocable."

He argues Greece's debt will be increasingly unsustainable unless it receives generous repayment relief that would allow its battered economy to recover.

"The irrevocable decision by our government is to honor and fully implement our pre-election policy commitments, fully respecting the will of the people as expressed in recent election," Tsipras said late Sunday at the start of a three-day debate in parliament to give his new government vote of confidence.

On Monday, the prime minister continued meetings with European leaders, holding talks with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann in Vienna, ahead of an emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Wednesday.

Tsipras won Jan. 25 elections on a pledge of bringing relief to Greeks who have suffered through six years of recession and a dramatic drop in living standards. But since his party took office, Greece has suffered a ratings downgrade and decision by the European Central Bank not to accept its bonds as collateral.

As he walked to work on Monday, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, casually dressed and wearing a backpack, was surrounded by TV crews.

"We will have discussions and negotiations with our European partners," he said. "There is no clash."


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