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Greece needs six weeks to draw up economic plan: Varoufakis

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Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Athens needs up to six weeks to draft an economic recovery plan, as it lobbies its European allies to win backing for debt relief proposals.

[ROME] Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Athens needs up to six weeks to draft an economic recovery plan, as it lobbies its European allies to win backing for debt relief proposals.

"We need a maximum of six weeks: that's the time we are seeking from our European partners to be able to finalise a coherent programme of alternative policies to austerity," Mr Varoufakis told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero in an interview published on Wednesday.

Mr Varoufakis is currently in Germany on the latest leg of a tour of Europe to drum up support for the new Greek government's push to renegotiate the terms of its massive 240-billion-euro (US$270-billion) bailout.

In a separate interview with La Repubblica, he said the proposal would see the debt divided up, with the funds owed to the European Central Bank paid back in full on the deadline of July 20.

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Those owed to national governments and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, could instead be swapped for growth-linked bonds, he said.

"We are proposing the other tranches, to the IMF and other countries, be substituted with new bonds at market interest, which is very low right now, with a clause: we will start the entire repayment once Greece's economy sees solid growth," he said.

Mr Varoufakis said the idea had already been put to the IMF, adding that he did not see "why they should not accept an extension like they always do in these situations, at least until the end of the year."

Greece wants to be able to introduce "socially compatible reforms... that must above all aim to resolve the humanitarian crisis, as the Greek crisis is more than ever a European crisis," he told Il Messaggero.

The new government, led by the radical left Syriza party, won power in an election last month after pledging to end the previous conservative administration's policies of austerity in the debt-ridden country.

The austerity policies, imposed by the EU and IMF in exchange for the bailout loans, have seen the Greece economy contract by a quarter and unemployment shoot up to over 25 per cent, with one in two Greek youths now out of work.

AFP

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