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IMF chief Christine Lagarde is happy for Greece -- struggling under the weight of cuts demanded by international creditors. AFP/Photo.

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Germany says no rift with IMF on austerity plan

IMF chief Christine Lagarde is happy for Greece — struggling under the weight of cuts demanded by international creditors. AFP/Photo.

TOKYO, Japan Oct 13 – Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Saturday sought to quell speculation of a rift with the International Monetary Fund over austerity cuts for debt-riddled eurozone members.

On Thursday, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said she was happy for Greece — struggling under the weight of cuts demanded by international creditors — to have two more years to meet its deficit-reduction targets.

The next day, Schaeuble said there was “no alternative” to cutting bloated national balance sheets, which Athens and other troubled eurozone nations have agreed to in exchange for multi-billion euro bailouts.

On Saturday, Schaeuble insisted there was no ideology gap.

“We are in complete agreement with the IMF, and especially with Ms Lagarde, that in a mid-term view the reduction of too-high debt levels is completely unavoidable,” Schaeuble told a press briefing at the IMF’s annual meeting in Tokyo.

“There is no disagreement about that at all; about the pace of the first steps and their size… but they must go in the right direction.”

He added that his earlier comments were directed at Greece.

“(Greece) is another subject. I have not talked about the aid programme for Greece.”

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