Greek PM says time for action from lenders, IMF payment scrapes by
By Renee Maltezou and Lefteris Papadimas
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday called on lenders to break an impasse in cash-for-reform talks after Athens had to resort to a temporary expedient to make a crucial payment to the IMF.
Greek officials told Reuters they had emptied an International Monetary Fund holding account to repay 750 million euros to the global lender on Monday, avoiding default but underscoring the dire state of the country's finances.
At his second cabinet meeting in three days, Tsipras told ministers Athens was sticking to its "red lines" and that it was time to see lenders meet Greece halfway, according to a government official. The official said Greece is still expecting a deal by the end of the month.
"The Greek side has so far fully met everything the Feb. 20 Eurogroup decision foresaw. It has taken as many steps as possible towards the European partners' side," the official quoted Tsipras as telling his cabinet. "It's now our partners' turn to make the necessary steps in order for them to prove in practice their respect towards the democratic popular mandate."
Earlier, Germany's hardline finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the negotiations' tone had improved but not their substance, warning again that time was running out for Greece.
"On the issues, progress in the talks is not comparable to the improvement in the atmosphere," Schaeuble told reporters after a European Union finance ministers' meeting in Brussels.
Euro zone partners issued a lukewarm statement on Monday welcoming incremental progress in the talks but noting that more work was needed to narrow remaining gaps. Sources say these are mainly over pension and labor reforms and budget targets.
The creditors are insisting Greece must adopt and begin implementing a full reform program before they will start releasing the last 7.2 billion euros from a bailout program that expires at the end of June. Continued...