Tough path taken by Greece will pay off: Merkel

The tough path Greece is on will pay off, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday during a visit to Athens marred by clashes between police and protesters.

In her first visit to Greece since the debt crisis erupted here in 2009, Merkel commended Athens for what she described as important reform successes, but said more work was needed to reduce the country's debt mountain and restore competitiveness.

"A lot has been accomplished," Merkel said after talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Samaras said Greeks were "bleeding" but would stick to their reform pledges and were determined to stay in the euro.

(Writing by Matt Robinson)