Merkel urges new aid program for Greece

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Friday for a new financial assistance program for Greece.

“In the light of the current situation we need a new program for Greece,” Merkel told journalists following a meeting Sarkozy.

She urged private investors to participate in the program on a voluntary basis.

European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said in a statement on Thursday that euro zone finance ministers are expected to decide on a new bailout for Greece in July.

The ministers are expected to approve a 12 billion euro (about $17 million) loan tranche from the original 110-billion-euro aid package to Greece on Sunday.

The tranche was originally planned to be handed to Greece this month, but was held off due the country’s failure to meet austerity targets.

In May, the Greek government approved 6-billion-euro spending cuts for 2011, a 22-billion-euro saving package for 2012-2015, and a 50-billion state assets privatization program, to be able to meet the terms of the loan.

Over 10,000 people gathered in front of the parliament in Athens on Wednesday to protest the unpopular measures.

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