EU targets interim Greek debt deal by next week
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is aiming to clinch an interim debt deal with Greece at a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Monday, with "low expectations" for a breakthrough at meetings of ministers and EU leaders this week.
Euro zone finance ministers, collectively known as the Eurogroup, meet on Wednesday and next Monday and EU leaders at a summit, or European Council, this Thursday.
"These are the next steps but for the time being we have low expectations that any final agreement will be tomorrow or at the European Council," a Commission spokeswoman told a news conference.
An EU official later said the target now was to clinch an interim deal by Monday's scheduled meeting of the Eurogroup in Brussels.
"This would give time for any ratification required by national parliaments before the current EU bailout deal expires on February 28," the official said, although cautioned against setting "any fake deadlines".
Greece is seeking a new debt agreement with the euro zone that will allow it to shake off much of the austerity imposed since 2010 by international lenders. The existing package expires at the end of February.
"Of course very intense contacts are ongoing between the (Commission) President, (Greek) Prime Minister Tsipras and all other players involved in the euro zone.... But up to this point all these contacts have not been very fruitful," the Commission spokeswoman said.
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald and Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Barbara Lewis and Anna Willard)
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