ATHENS (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew urged Greece on Sunday to persevere with tough economic reforms during a one-day trip to Athens designed to demonstrate Washington’s support for the crisis-plagued country.
Greek government officials said Lew’s talks focused on Greece’s fiscal progress before Prime Minister Antonis Samaras meets U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on August 8.
“We recognize the difficult decisions and shared sacrifices of the last few years,” Lew told reporters after meeting Samaras at the Acropolis Museum.
“Of course the road ahead is still challenging. Continued reform would be essential to laying the foundation for sustained growth,” he added.
Greece depends on the Washington-based International Monetary Fund and the European Union for bailout funds to keep afloat as it struggles to exit its worst economic crisis since World War Two.
Lew visited Athens after attending a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers which pledged to put growth before austerity to revive the global economy.
Washington has long urged Europe to prioritize growth over fiscal consolidation and Lew reiterated this message in Athens.
“Engagement with Europe remains at the top of my agenda, because U.S. jobs and growth are inextricably linked to Europe achieving growth and prosperity,” he said.
Lew’s trip came three days after German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a leading proponent of the austerity policies pursued by Samaras’s government, also visited Athens.
Reporting by Renee Maltezou, editing by Gareth Jones