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Officials says Greek interim govt to be announced Wednesday after talks drag into 3rd day
ATHENS, Greece (AP) ' A new Greek interim government will be announced Wednesday afternoon, a government official said, after critical power-sharing talks between the country's two parties dragged into a third day despite intense European pressure.
Negotiations between Prime Minister George Papandreou and opposition leader Antonis Samaras began Monday in an effort to resolve a political crisis that has threatened to leave Greece without its vital bailout loans and raised the possibility of the country leaving the euro.
The two reached a historic weekend agreement to forge an interim government that will shepherd the country's new euro130 billion ($179 billion) European rescue package through Parliament and end an intense political crisis that threatened Greece's solvency and membership of the euro.
Papandreou has agreed to step aside once a deal is reached. His surprise announcement last week that he would put the new debt deal to a referendum sparked the latest political crisis, leading to an angry backlash from European leaders who had hammered out the agreement barely a week before, and a revolt from Papandreou's own Socialist lawmakers. He withdrew the plan after Samaras indicated he would back the debt deal.
As coalition talks spilled into a third day without any public announcement of who will take over as interim premier, a government official said Papandreou would visit the country's president by around midday. The official said the makeup of the new Cabinet would be announced in the afternoon following a meeting between party leaders. According to protocol, government changes must be announced to the president, who holds a largely ceremonial post.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.
By Tuesday night, officials on both the governing Socialists' side and the opposition conservatives said the most likely candidate to replace Papandreou was former European Central Bank vice president Lucas Papademos. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as no candidates' names were being made public.