Germany's vice chancellor is criticizing the country's finance minister for suggesting that Greece could take a five-year "timeout" from the shared euro currency to address its financial problems.

Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Germany's economy minister, said on ZDF television Sunday "it wasn't prudent to make this suggestion as a German suggestion," the dpa news agency reported.

He added that Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble also knew Gabriel's junior government coalition partner, the Social Democrats, would only talk of a Greek exit "if that's what the Greeks want themselves."

Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken a softer stance than Schaeuble, but in an interview in Der Spiegel magazine, the finance minister downplayed their differences. Schaeuble says "we're not always of the same opinion but we're on the same path."