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Runner up rejects coalition deal

The leader of the runner-up party in Greece's national election, the Radical Left Coalition's Alexis Tsipras, has rejected a coalition with the winning conservative party.

Following 40-minute talks with conservative leader Antonis Samaras, Mr Tsipras said the two parties' views were diametrically opposed.

He demanded the cancellation of austerity measures many blame for deepening economic woes.

Mr Samaras, who was given three days from Monday in which to build a coalition or pass on the mandate to Mr Tsipras, was also meeting with the head of the third party, the socialist PASOK.

Mr Tsipras' refusal to co-operate with the conservatives, while anticipated, makes it even less likely that Mr Samaras will be able to form a strong enough coalition. It also increases the possibility that Greece will be forced to hold repeat elections in mid-June.

"The campaign positions of Mr Samaras are at the opposite end of the alternative proposals of a left-wing government," said Mr Tsipras, who strongly opposes Greece's bailout commitments.

"There can be no government of national salvation, as (Samaras) has named it, because his signatures and commitments to the loan agreement do not constitute salvation but a tragedy for the people and the country."

Another election, possibly as soon as next month, looms for a country that is reliant on international support to avoid bankruptcy.

Sunday's vote saw parties backing the draconian international rescue package lose their majority in parliament - raising the chances of a possible Greek exit from the common euro currency.

Official results showed conservative New Democracy came first with 18.85% and 108 of Parliament's 300 seats. Mr Samaras, who backs Greece's bailout commitments for austerity but has called for some changes to the bailout plan, will launch coalition-forming talks later in the day.