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France's Macron Lays Out Plan For Reshaping Europe During Athens Visit

10 September 2017

France's president has called for greater European investment in Greece to help offset the cash-strapped country's increasing reliance on non-European countries, notably China.

The second day of Macron's visit focused on economic issues, with more than 140 French and Greek businesses - among them oil giant Total and construction firm Vinci - meeting in Athens. US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke on the phone with Xi on Thursday and Wednesday respectively, state news agency Xinhua said.

Euro zone governments in June approved another 11th-hour credit line for Greece worth almost $10 billion after the International Monetary Fund said it would in principle join the country's current bailout, having hesitated for two years.

Greece has been financially burdened since 2010 when it signed its first economic bailout deal with worldwide creditors.

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The privatization of state assets has been a key element of Greece's bailouts since 2010.

Tsipras added that attracting investment was a top priority for his government, which aims to reduce the jobless rate and make Greece financially independent in 2018, when the country's third global bailout expires. Many of those have ended up in the hands of non-European investors.

Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Athens was determined to promote discourse in Europe for a new contract for democracy, equality and solidarity.

Athens must, however, remain on track with reforms, he said.

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Macron "reiterated the worldwide community's condemnation of North Korea's provocations", the French president's office told AFP.

Macron also said he backed the idea of giving Britain's 78 seats in the European Parliament to pan-EU representatives elected by all of the EU's citizens after Brexit.

The 39-year-old centrist also said that Ankara had "objectively distanced itself" from the EU in recent months, citing Turkey's desire to enter into a customs union with the EU as a possible area of retaliation. "We must rediscover the enthusiasm that the union was founded upon and change, not with technocrats and not with bureaucracy".

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France's Macron Lays Out Plan For Reshaping Europe During Athens Visit