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EU insists on pledge in writing from Greece on debt deal

(BRUSSELS) - The European Union insisted on Tuesday that Greek political parties must sign a letter vowing to back a debt rescue package, after the opposition said it saw no need to make a written pledge.

"It is indeed essential that the new government expresses its unequivocal commitment in writing regarding all decisions taken October 27" at an EU summit, said EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn.

Speaking at the close of daylong talks of EU finance ministers, Rehn said the other 26 members of the bloc deemed that Athens' shocking though now defunct move to hold a referendum on the bailout breached the terms of a rescue package decided at the summit.

Those decisions were "taken for the benefit of Greece and the Greek people," he said.

Dubbing the referendum proposal "a breach of confidence," he said "now it is essential to repair that social contract between Greece and the rest of the euro area. And the way to do this ... is indeed by a commitment in writing."

Moments earlier, Greek opposition head Antonis Samaras, who is in talks on forming a unity government, said he backed the EU bailout deal as "inevitable" but saw no need for a written pledge.

"I have repeatedly explained why the application of decisions taken (at an October EU summit) are inevitable to protect the Greek economy and the euro," Samaras said in a statement.

"I won't allow anyone to doubt these statements," he said.

Rehn however said Greece's new authorities would also have to meet prior commitments under a 110-billion-euro international rescue before receiving an eight-billion-euro loan instalment still due.

"The sixth tranche could then be disbursed once there is full clarity about Greece sticking to the full terms of the programme," he said of the instalment desperately needed by Greece in the coming weeks to pay bills and salaries.

"Solidarity is a two-way street," Rehn added.

Once Greece's broad-based government committed, negotiations could begin on the October 27 rescue package, a 230-billion-euro rescue which for the first time provides for banks to share the pain by taking a 50 percent write-down on Greek debt.

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