ECB's Asmussen sees Greek aid deal covering 2 years

Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:33pm EST
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By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN (Reuters) - European Central Bank policymaker Joerg Asmussen said on Sunday the euro zone should agree next week on two years of funding for Greece and leave further help to be decided later, a view likely to irk the IMF, which wants a permanent solution.

"We should next week settle the financing for the years 2013 and 2014, but you have to be honest and say we do not really expect the country to have access to markets in 2015 and 2016; that means a follow-up programme would be necessary," Asmussen told German broadcaster ZDF.

A two-year deal would postpone a longer-term solution to the Greek debt crisis until after a September 2013 German general election, when it might be politically easier for Germany, the EU's paymaster, to take tough decisions.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, is unlikely to welcome further delay.

Euro zone finance ministers and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde meet on Tuesday to try to agree on how to make Greece's debt manageable, an agreement that eluded them last week.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was banking on a deal.

"We must find a common line. We have to find it on Tuesday. We are working intensively on this, and I think that we will manage it," Schaeuble told ARD television.

Lagarde told Reuters late on Saturday that she would push for a permanent solution to Greece's debts to avoid prolonged uncertainty and further damage to the Greek economy.   Continued...