Euro zone, IMF fail to strike Greek debt deal

Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:48am EST
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By Jan Strupczewski, Annika Breidhardt and Maria Paravantes

BRUSSELS/ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's international lenders failed for the second week running to agree how to get the country's debt down to a sustainable level and will have a third go in six days' time.

After nearly 12 hours of talks through the night during which myriad options were discussed, euro zone finance ministers, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank failed to reach a consensus, without which emergency aid cannot be disbursed to Athens.

The IMF has so far refused to give Athens an extra two years to meet its debt target, while European governments led by Germany refuse to write off loans, two options which might make the targets easier to reach.

"We are close to an agreement but technical verifications have to be undertaken, financial calculations have to be made and it's really for technical reasons that at this hour of the day it was not possible to do it in a proper way and so we are interrupting the meeting and reconvening next Monday," Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters.

"There are no major political disagreements," he said.

Nonetheless, the euro extended its fall against the dollar in response, and German bond futures were higher as investors were expected to rush into the safe haven.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said the lack of a debt deal between the country's lenders over technical reasons did not justify holding up aid needed to avert Greek bankruptcy. Greece's next big debt repayment is due in mid-December.

"Greece did what it had committed it would do. Our partners, together with the IMF, also have to do what they have taken on to do," Samaras said in a statement.   Continued...

Luxembourg's Prime Minister and Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker (R) talks with Spain's Economy Minister Luis de Guindos (L) at a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels November 20, 2012. REUTERS/Yves Herman