President Barack Obama and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras spoke about numerous issues that bind the two nations together, as well as issues impacting Greece including the refugee crisis. But no single issue was more important than that of debt relief for Greece, which Obama has said he will push for when he travels to Germany.
Tsipras told Obama that after seven years, the Greek economy and Greek society as a whole could not bear any more austerity.
Obama responded that “As Greece continues its reforms, the IMF has said that debt relief is crucial, I will continue to urge creditors to take the steps needed to put Greece on a path towards a durable economic recovery, because it is in all of our interests that Greece succeeds.”
“I know it’s a painful and difficult time, especially for Greek workers and families, pensioners and young people,” Obama said, adding that austerity was not a sustainable strategy and advocated “some kind of debt relief mechanism,” so Greece could have “the space to return to growth and start creating jobs again.”
That’s a message he’ll have the opportunity to take directly to Greece’s main creditor Wednesday, when Obama travels to Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Tsipras and Obama gave a lengthy press conference after their meeting. Watch the complete press conference from The White House Facebook page here: