ATHENS, Greece – Greek lawmakers approved the country’s 2013 austerity budget early today, an essential step in Greece’s efforts to persuade its international creditors to unblock a vital rescue loan installment without which the country will go bankrupt.
The budget passed by a 167-128 vote in the 300-member Parliament. It came days after a separate bill of deep spending cuts and tax increases for the next two years squeaked through with a narrow majority.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras pledged that the spending cuts will be the last Greeks have to endure.
Finance ministers from the 17-nation eurozone are meeting in Brussels today, with Greece high on the agenda.
Japanese economy declines 3.5 percent
Japan says its economy contracted 3.5 percent in the July-September quarter.
Economists are forecasting a further decline in October to December, which would officially put Japan in recession, marked by two consecutive quarterly contractions.
West African countries sending troops to Mali
West African nations on Sunday agreed to send 3,000 troops to help the country of Mali wrest back control of its northern half, which was seized by al-Qaida-linked fighters more than six months ago, according to Nigerian state television.