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Greece says it met deficit-cutting targets in 2012

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- The Greek government says its painful austerity drive is paying off, with the budget deficit reduced to 6.6 percent of annual output in 2012 from 9.4 percent a year earlier.

A finance ministry statement Monday said that, not counting the cost of servicing Greece's debt mountain, the government posted a modest budget surplus of (euro) 434 million ($588 million) last year.

The conservative-led governing coalition has promised to reduce the budget deficit to 5.2 percent of annual output this year _ down from a peak of more than 15 percent when the Greek economy started to implode in 2009.

Greece has survived on international rescue loans, granted since 2010 in exchange for harsh fiscal discipline through repeated cuts in pensions and salaries, coupled with tax hikes.

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