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Harper set to leave for G20 summit where Greek financial turmoil will dominate

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will board an aircraft bound for Cannes, France later Wednesday and a critical meeting of G20 leaders.

The primary issue at the upcoming meetings is the financial turmoil in Greece and its tentative plan to hold a referendum on a European bailout.

That decision unleashed a wave of fresh uncertainty on financial markets, with European markets down as much as five per cent Tuesday.

Toronto’s main index shed almost 137 points, after plunging dove 338 points at one point, and New York’s Dow industrials fell 297 points.

Asian markets were largely mixed Wednesday, with the Nikkei down more than two per cent and the Hang Seng up by about the same.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty warned Tuesday that the Greek decision to hold a referendum places the global economic recovery in peril.

”What affects Europe, affects the United States, affects Canada … this kind of turmoil in Europe is not good for anyone around the world,” he said.

The European plan calls for backstopping banks to prevent a crisis and allows other indebted foreign nations to borrow at reasonable rates.

Greece’s prime minister held firm early Wednesday to his shock decision to call for a referendum despite.

George Papandreou’s government still faces a battle for survival, with a vote of confidence scheduled for Friday and a grilling from frustrated leaders expected later in the day ahead of the G20 summit in the French Riviera.