Greek politicians traded insults and accusations following new talks with President Karolos Papoulias to broker a coalition government, an effort that will resume Monday.
Papoulias called together the leaders of the three biggest parties Sunday, a week after indecisive elections and three failed attempts to form a government raised the possibility of new elections in the debt-stricken country. His office announced late Sunday that those talks would continue Monday morning.
After the meeting, the leader of the radical leftist Syriza coalition said other parties wanted Syriza to be their "partners in crime," adding: "We can't do that."
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras suggested the two other largest parties, New Democracy and PASOK, were going to form a coalition with a smaller group, the Democratic Left.
But the Democratic Left issued a statement calling Tsipras's remarks "a disgrace," and accusing him of lying and slandering the smaller party.
Europe is keeping a nervous eye on Greece, fearing that the political chaos there could lead to defaults on debt that could threaten the future of the euro. Greek failure -- or refusal -- to make debt payments could hurt banks across Europe. The talks with Papoulias came a week after elections in which angry voters punished mainstream parties by backing a range of fringe groups.
Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis held his own meeting with Papoulias late Sunday. So did Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the head of the far-right Golden Dawn party. Michaloliakos emerged from talks saying any new government would need an internationally respected premier with the clout to reject the bailout package the previous government signed, calling the deal "a crime against our country."
If no government can be cobbled together by May 17, new elections must be called. They would take place next month. Papoulias said he hoped he could help form a unity government, adding that "things in Greece are quite difficult" -- but things only looked more difficult after Sunday's talks.
Tsipras, whose party came in second last week on a platform of rejecting the conditions that international lenders have placed on the country, said that New Democracy, PASOK and the Democratic Left could form a majority government without the backing of his party.
Polls suggest that Syriza, which came second in voting last week, would come first if another round of elections is held.
"The three parties have 168 seats together. They can go ahead with that. They are pressuring us to participate, and that is an irrational and unprecedented request. They want us to give a fake sense of legalization," he said.
But the Democratic Left said it had not agreed to back a coalition without Syriza, and said of Tsipras: "His obvious inability to justify his stance should not lead him to slander and lie. This is an unethical political act on his part."
Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the Socialist party PASOK, said after the meeting that his party would do everything possible to form a national unity government, but that they were ready for new elections if necessary.
Venizelos had gone to Papoulias on Saturday to admit he could not form a government, making him the third politician in a week to fail to form a coalition.
Antonis Samaras, the leader of the center-right New Democracy party, said before the meeting on Sunday that the voters had called for collaboration, change, and staying within the eurozone, the group of 17 European countries that use a common currency.
Papoulias met Samaras, Venizelos and Tsipras together on Sunday.
The president will hold talks with the leaders of smaller parties later in the day.
Independent Greek Party leader Panos Kammenos complained about the way Papoulias was organizing the meetings, saying all party leaders should meet together.
The Communist party, meanwhile, called for new elections, saying they will not participate in a coalition government.
Four out of five voters said they would vote the same way in a new election, according to a poll published Saturday by the newspaper Kathimerini.