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Stocks muted amid Greece deadlock

Asian stock markets were muted as talks dragged on to resolve a massive debt mess in Greece before it explodes into a wider financial crisis.

Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.2% to 8,916.09. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.3% to 1,979.30 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 0.6% higher at 20,826.19.

Benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore rose while mainland China fell.

Greek political leaders have been haggling over the details of a cost-cutting package required for the country to get more urgently needed loans from international lenders; some 130 billion euro in bailout money is on the line.

Without an injection of emergency money, Greece will likely default on its bond repayments on March 20 - an event that could shake European banks and other private lenders with Greek debt on their books.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and German chancellor Angela Merkel have warned Greek leaders that they need to push through the austerity measures or risk letting the country go bankrupt.

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