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Greece moves debt talks to France

July 29, 2014

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s next meetings with international debt inspectors will take place in Paris instead of Athens, the government said Tuesday, calling the move a sign that the country is no longer under “intense pressure” to make austerity measures.

Government spokesman Sofia Voultepsi said the meetings will take place in early September with officials from the “troika” of the European Union, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

The venue, she said, had been changed from Athens at the government’s request to avoid disruption from protests and strikes, and signals that Greece’s economy is recovering.

“The (inspectors) have no reason to be here,” Voultepsi said. “Our program is on course and ... our economic output is set to start growing for the first time in many years.”

Greece slid into recession in 2008 and needed a massive international bailout two years later to avoid default. Draconian public spending cuts demanded by rescue lenders resulted in often tense meetings between the government and debt inspectors who paid regular visits to Athens.

Greece’s leftwing Syriza opposition party described the venue change as a “maneuver” to avoid public attention on ongoing austerity measures.

Though no longer facing the threat of imminent bankruptcy, Greece still relies on rescue loans and is hoping for concessions from other eurozone members to make its runaway national debt sustainable.

Late Tuesday, the government submitted legislation to parliament, continuing a tax administration overhaul that had been demanded by bailout creditors.

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