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Our economy 'at a different stage' to Greek troubles

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan is ready to offer advice to his Greek counterpart as he makes the case that Ireland is at a "different stage" to the embattled European nation.

Finance ministers in the euro zone have slapped a 28-day deadline on Greece to outline how its budget programme is working.

Greece could potentially be excluded from a vote of European governments on additional measures imposed on it if it does not meet the deadline four weeks from today.

Mr Lenihan said that he and his counterparts in Europe were ready to have a "full and frank discussion" about any potential rescue package for Greece.

He said he was cautiously optimistic that Ireland was turning the corner and the economy would grow this year.

"Ireland is at a different stage to those countries now attracting the most adverse comment and this has been reflected in the Irish spreads which have remained relatively steady," said Mr Lenihan

Greece is seeking a financial rescue package from fellow eurozone members as it tries to reduce its giant public deficit of 12.7pc, more than four times what single currency rules allow.

Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said his task was like changing "the course of the Titanic".

He wants clarification of the EU summit message, which promised "determined and co-ordinated action" should the euro run into trouble because Athens could not raise the loans it needs.