German Parliament set to vote on Greece Feb. 27

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BERLIN (AP) — The German Parliament is set to hold a special session on Feb. 27 to vote on the second bailout for Greece, a senior lawmaker said Friday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel briefed leaders of the five parties in the lower house, or Bundestag, on the situation regarding Greece — a day after its political leaders gave in to demands for painful new job and spending cuts.

European finance ministers declared later Thursday, however, that Athens hadn't gone far enough and demanded further austerity measures within a week in exchange for a euro130 billion ($170 billion) bailout to stave off bankruptcy

Once ministers sign off on the plan, "we will probably have a special meeting of the Bundestag on Feb. 27 to make decisions," Klaus Ernst, co-leader of Germany's opposition Left Party, told reporters after the meeting with Merkel.

Germany, the 17-nation eurozone's biggest economy and the biggest contributor to its rescue funds, has championed painful cuts and reforms to tackle the debt crisis.

Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, on Friday underlined Germany's interest in not letting Greece go bankrupt and insisted that Berlin "is working for a positive future for Greece."

"The German government is working so that Greece can regain the ability to carry its debts and its competitiveness," Seibert said.

"That is the German interest," he added. "A process that many experts describe as being completely unpredictable and connected with severe risks ... can neither be in interest neither of Germany, nor of Greece, nor of Europe."

"I think it would make sense to remember that ... many of these measures are not austerity measures, but measures to increase competitiveness, measures meant to lead to the country once again becoming ready and attractive for investment," Seibert said.

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