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Greek Prime Minister Tsipras to visit Germany

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will make his first official visit to Berlin next week to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Tsipras' planned visit comes as the two countries continue to clash over finances.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel invited Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to visit Berlin during a telephone conversation on Monday, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said. That offer was accepted and Tsipras is due to hold talks with Merkel on March 23.

The invitation comes two months after Tsipras and his Syriza party were elected to lead Greece on a platform of ending the pain caused by the austerity measures by renegotiating the terms of the country's multi-billion euro bailout. That's caused concern for Greece's eurozone creditors, especially Germany.

In recent days,

tensions between Germany and Greece

have risen over how exactly Syriza will be able to honor Athens' debts while keeping its promises to Greeks, as well as continued calls by Greek politicians for Germany to pay reparations for Nazi atrocities in World War II.

Tsipras and Merkel are also due to meet before next week at a European Union summit from March 19-20 in Brussels, where Tsipras wants to persuade the eurozone to revise the terms of Greece's 240-billion euro ($255 billion) bailout.

Despite Greece securing a four-month extension to the program in February, it did not mean Athens had access to the remaining 7 billion euros ($7.4 billion) in loan funds already pledged to it. To get that money, Athens

must present a list of reforms,

which would need to be approved by creditors.

"Whatever obstacles we may encounter in our negotiating effort, we will not return to the policies of austerity," Tsipras told the Greek daily newspaper Ethnos on Monday, adding that state salaries, pensions and bank deposits would not be threatened by the

tough negotiations.

Tsipras has held the position that the tough austerity measures were hindering Greece's economic recovery.

On Monday, Greece repaid a loan of about 584 million euros ($615 million) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but the country faces several more debt deadlines over the summer.

se/kms (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)