Germany's Merkel praises Greece, wants joint European response to Putin letter

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a forum with Greek startup business people in Athens April 11, 2014. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Germany will continue to back Greece, whose reforms are paying off but still has a long way to go to overhaul its economy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Athens on Friday. Asked to comment on a letter by Russian Premier Vladimir Putin to 18 European leaders, about the flows of natural gas from Russia to the Ukraine, Merkel said Europe needed to consult and deliver a joint response. "There is good reason to take this letter as an opportunity to deliver a joint European response," Merkel said, adding the issue will be discussed in a meeting by European Union foreign ministers on Monday. (Reporting By Karolina Tagaris, Writing by Costas Pitas)