Germany rejects Syriza suggestions for cancelling Greece’s debt

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Germany has rejected any suggestion that Greece should be forgiven part or all of the debt it owes to international lenders.

The radical Syriza party won general elections over the weekend with pledges that included seeking forgiveness of more than half of Greece’s the debt.

But a spokesman for Germany’s Finance Ministry said that “the discussion about a debt cut or a debt conference is divorced from reality”.

Martin Jaeger told reporters in Berlin that Greece must abide by the terms of the bailout programme agreed by previous governments or endanger the programme. He added that “if the measures announced by the new government in Athens were implemented, then one has to ask whether the basis of the programme wouldn’t be called into question and therefore pointless”.

A top eurozone financial official is in Athens for talks with Greece’s new left wing government after it promised to renege on key commitments required in exchange for a 240bn euro (£179bn) rescue package. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutchman who chairs eurozone finance meetings, met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and was due to met with the Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis.

Mr Tsipras’ Syriza party, which won general elections last weekend, says it will not move ahead with several planned privatisation projects or aim for budget surpluses required to pay down Greece’s massive national debt.

Syriza has promised to break off talks with bailout negotiators from the troika – the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund – and seek talks directly with eurozone governments to try and cancel more than half the bailout debt.