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Greek premier defends bailout deal

Greece's prime minister has defended austerity measures that include painful wage and pension cuts but would ensure the country receives a 130 billion euro (£109 billion) bailout deal and stave off bankruptcy.

Lucas Papademos made the comments on the eve of a parliamentary debate and vote on emergency legislation approving the new bailout and a debt-swapping deal with private creditors. The debate began at committee level on Saturday afternoon. Further legislation will be up for vote a few days later.

Mr Papademos said the alternative to austerity is catastrophic bankruptcy - echoing comments made earlier by the leaders of parties backing Greece's coalition government - socialist George Papandreou and conservative Antonis Samaras.

"The deal will ensure our country's future inside the (eurozone) ... Bankruptcy would lead to uncontrollable economic chaos and social explosion," Mr Papademos said.

He added that under bankruptcy Greeks would lose their savings, the state would be unable to pay for salaries and pensions and there would be shortages in import items such as medicines, fuel and machinery.

Elections are due in October 2013, but MR Samaras called for an immediate vote once the bond swap deal with Greece's private creditors is over, saying he would not agree to the extension of the mandate of the coalition government beyond that date.

The bond swap deal with Greece's private creditors is expected to help Greece get rid of around 100 billion euro (£84 billion) of its debt.

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