Greece MPs back austerity plans

There have been riots protesting against the latest austerity measures

19 October 2011 Last updated at 20:48

The Greek parliament has given initial approval to an austerity law, with the bill passing its first vote by a margin of 155 to 141.

The bill will not become law until it has passed a second vote on its detail, due to take place on Thursday.

The measures include tax rises, pension and salary cuts and the suspension on reduced pay of 30,000 public servants.

Riots broke out in Athens on Wednesday at the start of a 48-hour general strike against the bill.

Riot police fired tear gas and fought running battles with protesters.

Some protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at the police, as a march by tens of thousands of people in central Athens turned violent.

The strike, called by both public and private sector unions, closed government departments, businesses, offices and shops.

Air-traffic controllers are staging a 12-hour walkout, with some 150 domestic and international flights cancelled.

Greece is struggling to reduce a huge government deficit amid fears it may default and set off a crisis, engulfing other eurozone countries like Spain and Italy.

Efforts to solve the eurozone’s debt crisis have been hampered by differences of opinion between France and Germany.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel disagreed about how to boost the bailout fund.

The two met in Frankfurt to discuss their differences.

The EU and IMF have demanded tough cuts in return for two bailout packages, and the meeting in Frankfurt comes days before high-level EU talks on the crisis.

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