CANNES, France (AP) — European leaders have summoned Greece's prime minister to explain his decision to hold a referendum on the bailout deal they spent months working out.
Prime Minister George Papandreou surprised markets and angered his counterparts with his announcement of the vote less than a week after Europe's leaders formulated the plan. A "no" vote in the referendum could prove disastrous, pushing Greece into a default that could topple fragile banks and send the global economy back into recession.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Papandreou to today's meeting. Sarkozy insists that the nearly $180 billion bailout deal remains "the only possible way" to sort out Europe's Greek debt problem.
A spokesman for Merkel says the economies that use the euro have become "closely integrated" and Greece has a responsibility to its European partners.
Today's meeting is taking place in Cannes (kan) on the French Riviera. It comes ahead of tomorrow's Group of 20 summit, where Sarkozy had hoped to tell leaders of the world's top industrial and developing nations that Europe finally had a comprehensive plan for dealing with its debt crisis.
(Copyright 2011, The Associated Press)