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France wants Greece deal before Sunday's referendum

media About 20 000 people demonstrated in favour of accepting negotiators' conditions in Athens on Tuesday Reuters/Yannis Behrakis

France hopes an agreement can be reached on Greece's debt before Sunday's referendum on acceptance of EU and IMF negotiators proposals for the country's economy, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on Wednesday morning.

"The aim is to reach an agreement before the referendum if possible," Sapin told RTL radio on Wednesday. "The hypothesis of an greement already exists. That's already a lot."

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Greece failed to repay 1.5 billion euros to the IMF on Tuesday, becoming the first industrialised country to fail to meet such a commitment with the international finance body.

Sapin denied that he wanted to avoid the referendum being held, saying that was a decision for the Greek government.

"It's not up to us to dictate from outside whether one should be organised," he commented.

He denied the widespread impression that Germany has been the toughest country in negotiations, claiming that "little countries", like Slovenia and Slovakia, that have made "a lot of effort over the last few years", have told Athens that the recipe had worked for them.

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