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Originally published Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 3:40 AM

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German party open to giving Greece more time

A senior figure in Germany's governing coalition whose party has talked particularly tough on Greece has signaled that he's open to giving Athens more time to get its finances in order.

The Associated Press

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BERLIN —

A senior figure in Germany's governing coalition whose party has talked particularly tough on Greece has signaled that he's open to giving Athens more time to get its finances in order.

Over the summer, prominent officials in the Christian Social Union, the Bavaria-only sister to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, called for Greece to leave the euro.

But party leader Horst Seehofer said in an interview with Bayern 2 radio Friday that he sees "no reason for that at the moment." Talk of a Greek exit hasn't amused Merkel, who has made clear recently that she wants Greece to stay in the 17-nation shared currency.

European leaders are awaiting a report from Greece's debt inspectors before authorizing the release of the country's next batch of bailout cash.

Asked whether the CSU would go along with a possible recommendation from the inspectors that Athens be given more time, even if that costs more, Seehofer replied: "I think we can talk about that, if it is guaranteed that the cause of the problem - namely the Greek state's excessive debt - is really removed through reforms and austerity measures."

Greece has called for a two-year extension to its economic recovery program, due to end in 2014 - an extension that creditors fear would cost them extra money.

Seehofer's CSU has taken a tough line on Europe's debt crisis as it looks ahead to state elections in Bavaria expected next September, just before Germany is due to hold national elections.

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