Greek PM criticises 'irresponsible rumour mongering'

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has criticised a report that the country is ready to quit the eurozone, saying the country's government should be left alone to do its job.

Mr Papandreou was responding to a report on the website of German magazine Der Spiegel citing "knowledgeable sources" inside the German government saying Greece is threatening to quit the eurozone in order to pressure for a restructuring of its massive debt on favourable terms.

Analysts said yesterday that the Der Spiegel report was the main factor behind the euro tumbling over two cents against the dollar to $1.4315.

"Some irresponsibly tried to sow fear for a variety of reasons, maybe speculative ones," Mr Papandreou told local authority officials on the western Greek island of Lefkada. "This rumour mongering has been very negative to the morale of the Greek people and every prospective Greek or foreign investor. I call on everyone to let (the Greek government) do its job," he added.

Asked whether Mr Papandreou included his European Union partners among "everyone", government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said that he didn't.

"We do not accept, though, that this report was simply the result of a mistaken interpretation on the part of its author," Mr Petalotis told the Associated Press, adding that what Mr Papandreou meant was that rumours about Greece defaulting on its debt or leaving the eurozone were harmful and had to stop.

Mr Petalotis conceded that it was mainly up to the government to put an end to the rumours by sorting out its finances.

"(They will stop) only when we do our job and, through our actions, provide evidence that we are getting results," he said.

Greece's Finance Ministry and European Union officials dismissed the report but a sudden unannounced trip by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou to a meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg kept the rumours alive.

Mr Petalotis said the informal meeting, which was not called to deal specifically with the Greek situation, was kept secret at the request of Luxembourg Prime Minister and Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker.

"There is nothing to be made public yet. The finance minister will make any announcement," Mr Petalotis said, without specifying when this would happen.

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