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Greek finance minister meets eurozone officials over bailout logjam


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Greek finance minister meets eurozone officials over bailout logjam

The Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos met top European officials in Brussels on Friday to try to break the deadlock over stalled bailout talks.

Earlier the International Monetary Fund and Greece’s lenders from the eurozone agreed to put aside their differences over debt relief and present a united front.

They want Greece to agree to additional reforms including more people paying extra taxes and pension cutbacks. That would total 1.8 billion euros of spending cuts by 2018 and another 1.8 billion euros after that.

However, Athens remains strongly opposed to any further austerity.

Crisis exaggerated

If there is no new bailout Greece would default on its debt repayments due in July.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Eurogroup chairman, sought to play down anxieties that the debt crisis was about to blow up again.

“The story that there’s a crisis (is) roundly exaggerated,” he said, speaking in The Hague. “The next large payment that Greece needs to make (on its debt) isn’t until this summer. But if I can give them a push today, that would be of course be very welcome.”

An EU source familiar with the agreement said the lenders reckoned that Greece still needed to complete between three-quarters to a half of so-called prior actions before it can have the 6.1 billion euros due from the latest instalment of aid.

Progress but no resolution

One source said Friday’s meeting would show progress but not solve the impasse.

“I would expect this meeting may result in agreement to send a mission back to Athens. That’s something. I don’t expect it is going to result in a full agreement between all the institutions and Greece,” the source said.