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[ATHENS] France wants to support Greece's economic recovery through investments, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told a Greek newspaper on Thursday, hours before he arrives in Athens on an official visit.
"Yes, of course (France is interested in investing in Greece). We are urging more French businesses to look into investment prospects because we want to assist Greece's economic recovery," Mr Valls told Kathimerini newspaper in an interview.
Mr Valls, who has taken a tough stance against the hardline CGT union that has spearheaded strikes in France, shutting down refineries and disrupting fuel supplies, said areas of interest include energy, tourism, transportation and agriculture.
Paris has been supportive of Athens during acrimonious talks with official lenders on debt relief and will continue to do so, Mr Valls said.
"This is the message I will deliver to (Greek Prime Minister) Alexis Tsipras," he told the paper.
He said the Eurogroup's agreement on May 24 to release bailout funds to Athens sends a positive signal and adds credibility to Greece's prospects of returning to market financing by the end of its economic aid programme in 2018.
"The place of Greece is inside the European Union and the euro zone. This is the steady position of France and the reason we strove so much last year ... to reach an agreement," Mr Valls was quoted as saying.