Greece's banks, whose borrowing costs have soared as a result of the country's fiscal problems, have asked the Greek government for access to an extra 17 billion euros ($22.7 billion) in unused liquidity measures as they struggle to cope with the economic crisis.

"They want to have an additional safety net now that the economy and the banking system are under pressure," Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told reporters Wednesday after a meeting with Bank of Greece Gov. George Provopoulos.

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