German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday the euro zone's top priority for the beginning of 2012 was to secure a second aid package for Greece, while she expressed admiration for how quickly Italy's new government has launched reforms.

Merkel said after talks with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in Berlin that the Greek package had to be resolved before Europe could start working out how to boost growth and jobs.

The euro zone's first obligation this year is to resolve a second Greek programme and finalise these negotiations with the banks so that we can then concentrate on structural problems in the euro zone, Merkel told a news conference.

(Reporting by Stephen Brown and Alexandra Hudson)