EUROPEAN Council President Herman Van Rompuy has given his backing for a deal to reduce our €64bn banking debt.
Mr Van Rompuy highlighted the need to tackle the issue of Ireland's banking debt - as agreed by European leaders last June.
"One of the key objectives is to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns, especially, especially for Ireland," he said.
Mr Van Rompuy has consistently been one of the strongest voices at EU level arguing a reduction in the huge banking debt burden which resulted from the disastrous state banking guarantee in 2008. He is president of the European Council, which is made up of all 27 EU leaders as well as European Commission President Jose Manuel Barrosso. It sets the priorities for the EU.
Mr Van Rompuy said he was not involved in the discussions about reducing the bank debt. But he said he understood that the Irish Government was working hard with the European Central Bank (ECB) to find a mutually acceptable agreement on the Anglo Irish Bank debt.
"I really hope for a positive outcome," he said.
His comments were welcomed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who said that the Government's immediate focus would be to agree a deal on the Anglo Irish Bank debt - with another €3.1bn repayment currently due at the end of March.
"We do hope to have a conclusion on that matter before the March date," he said.