February 5, 2017 / 6:35 PM / 6 months ago

Germany's Gabriel - give Italy, France, Portugal time to cut deficits

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel speaks to the media outside of German House in New York, U.S., February 3, 2017.Lucas Jackson

BERLIN (Reuters) - European Union countries such as Italy, France and Portugal that are pursuing economic reforms should be given time to reduce their budget deficits, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Sunday.

"Europe must not, as has been the case so far, be divided further between north, south, east and west," Gabriel said. "It makes no sense not to give the French a millimetre more room even though they are taking on a great defense burden in Mali.

"Those that are pushing through reforms - that includes Italy, France too, Portugal too - we should give them time to reduce their deficits," he told German broadcaster ARD.

Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Ruth Pitchford

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