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Greece makes last spending cuts

Greece's prime minister Antonis Samaras has promised that new spending cuts planned for 2013-14 will be the last. But he has warned that without them Greece would have to leave the eurozone.

"This is the last such package of spending cuts," Samaras told a meeting of his conservative party's officials. "The Greek economy can take no more."

Athens is imposing spending cuts of up to 11.5 billion euros in 2013 and 2014 as part of its commitments to international creditors, who are keeping Greece afloat with rescue loans. Otherwise, the next 31-billion-euro bailout payment would be suspended. This would force Greece to default on its mountain of debt.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will hold talks in Berlin with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Tuesday.

"Many of these cutbacks are difficult, painful," Samaras said. "But they are also inevitable. For without them the country would return to zero credibility and effectively leave the euro. Which would ... destroy the country."

The Greek cabinet is scheduled to meet Sunday for the adoption of the new measures which are expected to include further pension and public sector pay cuts.

In an interview published in the "Welt am Sonntag," Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the opposition Social Democratic Party, called for more time to be given for Greece to service its debt. This is a request made on several occasions by Greece's leaders.

Debt inspectors from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank are due in Athens next week.

jm/av (dpa, Reuters, dapd)