Mixed messages on third Greek bailout talks

Mon Mar 2, 2015 1:57pm EST
 
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By Sarah Morris and Lefteris Papadimas

MADRID/ATHENS (Reuters) - Euro zone countries are discussing a third bailout for Greece worth 30 billion to 50 billion euros, Spain's economy minister said on Monday, but EU officials said there were no such talks.

Speaking at an event in Pamplona, northern Spain, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said the new rescue plan would set more flexible conditions for Greece, which had no alternative other than European support.

But the spokeswoman for Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the euro zone finance ministers' group, said there was no discussion of a third bailout and senior euro zone officials concurred.

"Euro zone finance ministers are not discussing a third bailout," spokeswoman Simone Boitelle said.

Greek leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras used a televised address on Friday to deny his country would need another international program.

Greece has acute and immediate funding problems to overcome, despite the four-month extension to its existing bailout it negotiated with the euro zone last month. To win that, Tsipras had to give up on key pledges made during his election campaign.

The extension averted a banking meltdown. But Greece still faces a steep decline in revenues and is expected to run out of cash by the end of March, possibly sooner.

The new government in Athens sought to assure it can cover its funding needs this month, including repaying a 1.5-billion- euro loan to the International Monetary Fund.   Continued...

 
People carrying goods wait at a bus stop in Athens' commercial district March 2, 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis