EU Officials Deny Greece Plans to Leave Euro Zone

Reuters

European officials denied on Friday that Greece had any plans to leave the euro zone, after Germany's Spiegel Online reported that the government in Athens had raised the prospect of an exit with other countries.

Without citing its sources, the magazine said euro zone finance ministers were meeting in Luxembourg on Friday evening to discuss Greece's situation, and that a possible restructuring of its debt as well as the issue of leaving the 17-member bloc would be on the agenda of the meeting.

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But a senior Greek government official and a spokesman for Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the group of euro zone finance ministers, said the report was wrong. Several top finance officials from other euro zone member states said they were not aware of any such meeting.

"I totally deny that there is a meeting, these reports are totally wrong," Juncker's spokesman, Guy Schuller, told Reuters by telephone.

The senior Greek official denied the report categorically, although he declined to be named ahead of a formal government response.

A German government official told Reuters that a Greek exit from the euro zone "is not planned and was not planned," while a spokesman for the Austrian finance ministry said a breakup of the bloc would be "absolutely unthinkable."

"Austria is a member of the euro zone, we know of no such meeting and haven't been invited, so

I conclude that there is no such meeting because I do not believe there can be a euro zone meeting without Austria," spokesman Thomas Waiglein said.

The euro briefly fell against the dollar in response to the report.

Spiegel Online said the meeting was being held under strict secrecy and that both German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his deputy Joerg Asmussen were attending.

It quoted from what it said was an internal German finance ministry paper that Schaeuble was taking with him to Luxembourg, which warned that a Greek exit "would lead to a significant depreciation of the domestic currency versus the euro" and increase Greece's debt levels to 200 percent of gross domestic product.

"The government has raised the possibility of leaving the euro zone and reintroducing its own currency," the report said.

The report can be seen on the following link: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,761201,00.html

(Writing by Noah Barkin; Editing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

((noah.barkin@reuters.com; +49 30 2888 5210; Reuters Messaging: rm://noah.barkin.reuters.com@reuters.net))