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French PM warns of 'crushing' debts

France's new Socialist prime minister has said the country's debts have become "crushing", laying the groundwork for expected spending cuts and tax hikes.

Jean-Marc Ayrault, in his first speech to the new Socialist-dominated parliament, said the country must control its spending "but that won't be enough".

President Francois Hollande has pledged new taxes on high earners. Mr Ayrault has insisted that any spending cuts would spare the poorest.

Auditors warned this week that the French government will need to fill a hole of up to 10 billion euro (£8 billion) in this year's budget to meet targets of cutting the deficit of Europe's No 2 economy.

Mr Hollande campaigned against austerity measures and fought for a Europe-wide growth package for government investment in infrastructure, but he has also promised to cut debts.

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