Greece, creditors agree on need for quick deal as talks continue

Sun May 31, 2015 4:20pm EDT
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By Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece and its European creditors agreed on the need to reach a cash-for-reforms deal quickly as Athens missed a self-imposed Sunday deadline for reaching an agreement to unlock aid, sources close to the talks said.

Athens and its euro zone and International Monetary Fund (IMF) creditors have been locked in talks for months on a reforms agreement. Without a deal, Athens risks default or bankruptcy in weeks.

The pressure has intensified in recent days as Athens faces a payment to the International Monetary Fund on June 5 as well as the expiration of its bailout program on June 30.

The government said this week it was looking for a deal by Sunday, but sources close to the talks at the so-called Brussels Group of EU/IMF creditors said that was unlikely.

In a phone call on Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande - the second in four days - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pushed for a political solution for the country's economic troubles.

"(The teleconference) took place in a very good climate," a Greek official said, adding that all three recognized the need for a quick deal.

Tsipras has long sought a political push to end negotiations and get aid flowing to his cash-strapped country. But the lenders have insisted that Greece must wrap up talks at the technical level with adequate concessions on reforms so that its budget and debt numbers add up.

In a column published on French daily Le Monde's website on Sunday, Tsipras said Greece should not be blamed for not yet reaching a deal with its creditors and called on fellow European leaders to bypass technical talks and come to a political solution.   Continued...

A Greek flag flies behind a statue to European unity outside the EU Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, May 20, 2015.    REUTERS/Francois Lenoir