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Spain out of recession, must nurture recovery: minister

People wait to enter a government job centre in Madrid July 2, 2013. REUTERS/Susana Vera
People wait to enter a government job centre in Madrid July 2, 2013. REUTERS/Susana Vera

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's economy will grow in the second half of the year but the government must implement reforms and cut the deficit - at the right pace - to keep the recovery going, Economy Minister Luis De Guindos said in an interview published on Sunday.

"The recession is over. The issue now is how strong the recovery is going to be," de Guindos said in the interview in El Pais.

"The recovery is a small flower in a greenhouse that has to be tended to... You tend to it with economic reforms, improving credit in the Spanish economy and reducing the fiscal deficit at the correct pace," he said.

Spain's economy entered recession at the end of 2011. After shrinking 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013, the government expects growth in the second quarter to have been closer to zero.

The International Monetary Fund said last month it also expected Spain to return to growth later this year but warned the country still needed to protect its fragile banks and do more to get millions of unemployed back to work.

Spain's unemployment rate currently stands at 27 percent.

(Reporting by Clare Kane; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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