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Papandreou waits for power sharing meeting

By Demetris Nellas

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Nov. 6 2011 10:25 a.m. MST

Greek president Karolos Papoulias, left, welcomes opposition leader Antonis Samaras at the Presidential Palace in Athens on Sunday, Nov. 6 2011. The conservative leader of the main opposition party said that no talks between the two parties were taking place and Samaras also reiterated his stance that Prime Minister Papandreou must resign before any coalition discussions can take place.

Kostas Tsironis, Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece — Greece's embattled prime minister asked the country's president on Sunday to host a meeting between him and the head of the opposition in an attempt to find a way out of a political crisis, as pressure mounts to ensure Greece avoids bankruptcy and remains in the eurozone.

Prime Minister George Papandreou told ministers in an emergency Cabinet meeting that he asked President Karolos Papoulias to convene the meeting Sunday night, his ministers said.

Political leaders are struggling to agree on creating an interim government. Papandreou has said he will resign once power-sharing talks conclude on a replacement.

Conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras has insisted the resignation come first.

Samaras' party spokesman, Yiannis Michelakis, said that while they were aware of Papandreou's comments, there had been no invitation from the president for talks. If such an invitation were extended to Samaras, he would attend, Michelakis said in a statement.

Papandreou narrowly survived a confidence vote in his government Saturday night, mid-way through his four-year term, amid increasing calls from both the opposition and many of his own lawmakers that he resign.

The crisis was sparked after Papandreou's shock announcement Monday night that he wanted to put a new European debt deal aimed at rescuing his country's economy to a referendum. The plan for such a vote caused an uproar in Europe, roiled international markets and led to calls in Greece for Papandreou's resignation, with lawmakers saying he had endangered Greece's bailout.

The prime minister withdrew the plan on Thursday, after Samaras indicated his party would back the new debt deal, agreed on after marathon negotiations in Europe on Oct. 27.

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