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Greece passes austerity budget

Greek lawmakers have approved the country's 2013 austerity budget, an essential step in Greece's efforts to persuade its international creditors to unblock a vital rescue loan installment without which the country will go bankrupt.

The approval by majority vote early Monday comes four days after a separate bill of deep spending cuts and tax hikes over the next two years squeaked past with a narrow majority in the 300-member Parliament following severe disagreements among the three parties in the governing coalition.

Finance ministers from the 17 eurozone countries meet in Brussels later Monday, with Greece high on the agenda.

But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said international creditors won't be rushed into approving the loan disbursement.



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