WASHINGTON (AP) — Greece's leftist opposition leader, Alexis Tsipras, was in Washington on Tuesday seeking to reassure U.S. officials that he would lead a responsible government if elected.
Tsipras heads Syriza, the radical left coalition party, which is leading Greek polls. He has strongly opposed austerity measures agreed to by the Greek government under the terms of rescue loans by other European states and the International Monetary Fund.
Greece's debt crisis has led to extreme hardship, with its economy expected to contract for a sixth consecutive year in 2013 and unemployment swelling at an alarming rate. Tsipras says that the terms of agreements with international creditors need to change.
"The insistence on implementing this agreement is at odds with the laws of humanity," Tsipras told an audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Tuesday. Tsipras was expected to meet this week with U.S. officials and lawmakers as well as a senior IMF official. The visit comes as the IMF has said that it sees the Greek program back on track after a period of political uncertainty. But the global lender has warned that the country still faces challenges and could be undermined by the rise of parties that reject the bailout program, including Syriza.
Last week, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Tsipras that Greece must implement the austerity measures and reforms it agreed to if it wants to remain one of the 17 nations using the euro currency.
Leaving the eurozone could devastate the Greek economy and Tsipras has said he does not want Greece to abandon the common currency.
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