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Merkel reaches out to defuse Greece tension

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Merkel reaches out to defuse Greece tension
Photo: DPA
17:31 CET+01:00
UPDATE: In a bid to defuse mounting Greek-German tensions, Chancellor Angela Merkel invited Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Berlin for his first official visit to Germany.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert confirmed via Twitter on Monday that Tsipras had accepted the invitation for Monday March 23rd.

Tensions have been high between the two countries ever since a temporary extension to Greece's bailout terms was agreed at the end of February, with German MPs voting massively in favour.

Greek newspapers had reported earlier on Monday that Tsipras would use an EU leaders' summit in Brussels on Thursday to explain the depth of his country's difficulties to his fellow heads of state and government.

Negotiations over the continuing bailout between Greece and its creditors, the European Commission, IMF and European Central Bank - formerly known as the Troika - have not been going well.

Greece's recently-elected Syriza government had been hoping for a breathing space to allow it to piece together a reform programme that would allow it to lighten the burden of austerity on Greek citizens in line with election promises.

But creditors insist that all of the money-saving measures agreed with the previous government have to be implemented before Greece sees a further Euro cent.

Greek Newspaper To Vima reported that Tsipras was prepared to speed up reforms and privatise some government-run businesses, but would not cut further into salaries and pensions.

Meanwhile Greek Finance Minsiter Yanis Varoufakis has been the subject of mockery throughout Germany today after he claimed that a video of him showing Germany his middle finger was a fake.

Twitter users have been using the hashtag #Fingergate to poke fun at Varoufakis, who said on Sunday night's edition of the Günther Jauch talk show that the video was "doctored".

"I have never given the finger ever" he told Jauch.

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