[BERLIN] German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was no reason to despair over Greece, although she warned that a solution to the country's debt crisis would not be found at Thursday's EU summit.
"If we look at what we have achieved on the road to the European Union, I don't see any reason to give up, or despair. On the contrary," Ms Merkel said in a statement to the German parliament, just hours before the summit in Brussels.
"It is absolutely clear that nobody can expect a solution to be found this evening in Brussels or on Monday evening," when she was scheduled to meet Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Berlin, Ms Merkel said.
But "I conduct all talks, both today and on Monday and many others, on the understanding that unity can emerge from differences in opinion," Ms Merkel said.
"Germany is prepared to" play its part in achieving this, she continued.
Greece, however, would have a "difficult path to tread," the German leader insisted.
Tensions have run high between Athens and Berlin in recent weeks as Greece's new leftist government under Mr Tsipras seeks to renegotiate the terms of its massive international bailout.
Germany is adamant that Greece stand by its commitments to its creditors.
Nevertheless, Ms Merkel said she was looking forward to meeting Tsipras in Berlin on Monday.
"We will have some time to talk in detail and perhaps even argue," she said.
At the end of the day, however, a solution could only be reached at a European level, Ms Merkel insisted.
Tsipras will plead with European counterparts at a summit in Brussels starting Thursday to release vital funds to help his debt-laden country stave off a looming cash crunch.