Athens Has Not Asked Moscow for Money

Athens Has Not Asked  Moscow for MoneyAthens Has Not Asked  Moscow for Money

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras began talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday as his indebted country scrambles for funds, but officials said Athens had not asked for money from Moscow.

Greece owes billions of euros in debt and interest payments and is looking for funds after failing so far to reach a deal with its European Union and International Monetary Fund partners to unlock fresh financing, Reuters reported.

Putin could offer to lift a ban on food imports from Greece, imposed in response to EU economic sanctions over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis, or propose a discount on gas deliveries.

Some EU states are worried such deals might encourage Athens to break ranks over the sanctions but a Greek government official suggested this would not happen.

"We have not asked for financial aid," a Greek government official said before the talks in Moscow. "We want to solve our debt and financial issues... within the euro zone."

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov also said on Tuesday that there had been no aid request.

Russia is not in a good position to offer aid as it faces its own economic crisis, aggravated by the sanctions, a drop in global oil prices and the ruble's decline against the US dollar.

The Greek official said talks would focus on economic cooperation and bilateral investment and trade, within what he called the framework of the EU. "Greece knows what to do within the EU framework but every country also has the sovereign right to look after and improve its bilateral relations," the official said.