ATHENS, Greece -- German chancellor Angela Merkel said Greece has covered "much of the ground" required for recovery, during her landmark visit to the financially stricken country.
Merkel, who stopped in Athens on Tuesday for five hours, said she hoped Greece would remain in the 17-country group that uses the nation eurozone and stressed the government in Athens still had to push through more key cost-cutting reforms.
"Much of the ground has been covered ... There is daily progress," Merkel said after talks with conservative Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. "This is an effort that should be seen through because otherwise it would make the circumstances even more dramatic later on."
Paying her first visit to Greece in five years, Merkel's arrival triggered protests attended by some 50,000 demonstrators in Athens. The rallies were mostly peaceful, but police briefly clashed with several dozen demonstrators and detained more than 50 people throughout the day.
Although Merkel damped expectations in Athens of a strong public pledge to keep Greece in the eurozone, Samaras said Merkel's visit had ended "the country's international isolation."