Treasury Secretary Jack Lew declined to voice any administration opinion on the recent report that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras secretly pursued a $10 billion loan from Russia.
At a press breakfast in Washington, D.C., sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, Newsmax asked Lew if he had any opinions on the report that appeared July 20 in the Greek publication To Vima.
It asserted that Tsipras sought the bailout from Russia while publicly negotiating with Greece's international creditors for new terms on its current loans. Russian President Vladimir Putin nixed the loan July 5, according to the report.
The same publication reported that Tsipras made similar secret overtures for financial assistance to China and Iran.
"I read five foreign newspapers so far this morning, but I haven’t seen To Vima," Lew quipped to us.
Lew, the U.S. official most engaged in the ongoing Greek debt crisis, then recalled how he "has had extensive conversations with all the key parties" in the effort to keep Greece in the euro currency. "I’ve talked to Prime Minister Tsipras well over a dozen times, I’ve spoken to the new finance minister [Euclid Tsakalotos], and I spoke often to the previous finance minister [Yanis Varoufakis].
"It’s quite clear they made an agreement [with European creditors] that is tough," the Treasury secretary said, noting that it includes "spending cuts, tax increases, and structural reform."
In giving the administration’s unqualified endorsement of the actions taken by the Tsipras government, Lew said: "They reached an agreement that is tough and shows a serious determination to remain in the euro."
Given those circumstances, he said, there should now be "kind of a practical focus on the outcome that is good to all."
Pressed by Newsmax as to whether the administration had no objection to Tsipras covertly trying to work out an arrangement with Putin and possibly with China and Iran, Lew replied: "Greece’s approach made it clear this is the best course for Greece with the institutions that are its creditors. They are trying to work out an arrangement with those parties to remain in the euro."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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