Greece expects Eurogroup to approve next aid tranche: officials

Mon Dec 16, 2013 3:54pm EST
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By Lefteris Papadimas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece expects euro zone finance ministers to approve the latest tranche of its multibillion bailout when they meet on Tuesday, Finance Ministry officials said, as foreign lenders wrapped up the latest round of negotiations.

Both sides said they moved closer to a deal on drastically slimming down a money-losing arms manufacturer, a condition to unlock the 1 billion-euro tranche, but fell short of confirming whether an agreement had been reached on Monday.

"There was progress in our discussions," the International Monetary Fund's mission chief for Greece, Poul Thomsen, told reporters after meeting Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.

Inspectors from the European Union, IMF and European Central Bank "troika" were due to leave Athens on Tuesday and Thomsen said they would return in January.

Greece has been kept afloat by a financial lifeline from the euro zone and the IMF since 2010, with 240 billion euros of loans pledged in exchange for spending cuts and reforms.

Athens was due to receive up to 5.9 billion euros of loans by the end of the year, according to the schedule published by the country's creditors.

However, the remaining 4.9 billion euros is unlikely to come before January, until agreement is reached on other sticking points such as mass firings and lower pension fund contributions for employers.

The latest troika review, which resumed last Wednesday, has been interrupted twice since September due to the reluctance of Greece's austerity-weary coalition government to adopt any more unpopular measures.   Continued...

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Deputy Director and Mission Chief to Greece Poul Thomsen (R) arrives at the Finance Ministry in Athens December 16, 2013. REUTERS/John Kolesidis