ECB's Asmussen sees promising signs from Greece


Greece is showing promising signs it can meet its fiscal targets next year, European Central Bank policymaker Joerg Asmussen said on Friday, adding that reforming while staying in the euro zone was the best way for Athens to get out of its debt crisis.

Greece, Spain and the euro zone's slow progress toward debt reform was center stage at International Monetary Fund meetings in Tokyo, where Asmussen was speaking, despite Europe's best efforts to step out of the spotlight.

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"The Greek authorities have to demonstrate that they can continue to stick to their commitments," Asmussen said in a text of comments for delivery in Tokyo. "We are seeing encouraging signs that the fiscal targets for next year can be met."

"This is the best way out of its crisis: for Greece to reform within the euro area," he added.

The ECB, the European Commission, and the IMF form the so-called troika of international lenders who are working on a review of their 130 billion euro bailout program for Greece.

Turning to the ECB's new bond-purchase program - dubbed "Outright Monetary Transactions", or OMT - Asmussen said the plan should play a supportive role in changing perceptions about the sustainability of euro zone countries' debts.

"It provides a credible backstop for tail risks and confirms that the euro is irreversible," he said of the program.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara, writing by Paul Carrel in Frankfurt)