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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras looks on during a news conference at the annual International Trade Fair of the city of Thessaloniki, Greece, September 11, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

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ATHENS (Reuters) - The European Union should refocus its attention on ways to spur economic growth in the bloc, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday, saying flexibility was needed on fiscal issues.

Tsipras, whose country has received three international bailouts in return for sweeping but deeply unpopular economic reforms, said the European Union needed to focus on social policies rather than just number crunching.

"We must stop believing that rules are like Moses' Ten Commandments, written in stone. Rules are good, but for each rule to work there should be exceptions," said Tsipras, a leftist elected on an anti-austerity platform in 2015.

The bloc's stability and growth pact, a set of rules on public finances, should start paying more attention to the "and growth" element of the accord, he said.

It should not be "just a pact for fiscal discipline," Tsipras told journalists in Bratislava, where EU leaders were holding an informal summit.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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