US will stand with Greece in 'difficult times': Obama

Obama called Papandreou yesterday, who resigned last week amid the country's massive debt crisis, to thank him for his "leadership and service over the past two years," the White House said in a statement.

"As the president said, the bonds between the American people and the Greek people are strong and deep, and the United States will stand with Greece through these difficult times," the statement said.

Obama also thanked Papandreou for his "contributions to Greece and to Greek-American relations," the White House noted.

Athens is racing against time to adopt deeply unpopular reforms demanded by its European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors before the release of bailout loans needed to avert bankruptcy in mid-December.

Last week, the United States saluted the designation of former central banker Lucas Papademos as Papandreou's successor, seeing it as evidence of a "consensus" in favor of reform.

"We welcome his appointment. We look forward to working with the new prime minister," said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

"We also welcome the consensus that's been reached in Greece on the need to implement the country's reform commitments to the IMF as well as the European Union," he said.

Papademos' government, formed last week with the backing of the socialist, conservative and right-wing nationalist parties, is expected to be confirmed in a vote of confidence Wednesday but must hold early elections in a few months.

US Vice President Joe Biden is due to visit Greece in December.

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