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Germany says 'no alternative' to slashing debt

Germany's finance minister said Friday there is "no alternative" to cutting debt in European countries, a day after the head of the IMF called for Greece to be given more time to pare its deficit.

"There's no alternative to reduce in the medium term too high sovereign debts, especially and of course for... the eurozone as a whole," Wolfgang Schauble said in a debate with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde in Tokyo.

Lagarde on Thursday appeared to soften slightly on the need for heavily indebted countries to trim their fiscal cloth, when she said: "Instead of frontloading heavily it is sometimes better... to have a bit more time."

She said the IMF was happy for debt-addled Greece to have another two years to get its fiscal house in order and bring budget deficits down to levels agreed with international creditors.

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