Greek leader seeks party backing as EU warns on cash deal hopes

Tue Jun 9, 2015 2:40pm EDT
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By Renee Maltezou and Jan Strupczewski

ATHENS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called on his fractious Syriza party to rally behind the government on Tuesday as time runs critically short to unlock funding from international lenders and avert a debt default.

Tsipras made his plea as Greek negotiators pushed to narrow differences with the European Union and IMF creditors over a cash-for-reform deal on which the country's future in the euro largely depends.

The two sides were expected to continue talks through Tuesday to try to hammer out a deal, in a sign that they were moving closer to a compromise despite fierce protestations about the inadequacy of the other side's proposals.

With the Brussels negotiations entering a decisive phase, European officials took a tough stand, expressing their frustration with Greek negotiating tactics and trying to impress on Athens the depth of the risks that it is running.

"We will do everything to keep Greece in the euro zone ... but our patience is running out," Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, dampened any expectations that a new Greek proposal promising more reforms and austerity in return for funding might offer an easy route to a deal.

"I've heard a lot of optimism from the Greek side, and it's an underestimation of the complexity of what's being asked of them," Dijsselbloem told the Dutch RTL Nieuws TV station.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is due to meet Tsipras on Wednesday along with French President Francois Hollande, has already stressed the urgent need for a settlement.   Continued...

A European Union flag (L) and a Greek national flag flutter as the ancient Parthenon temple is seen in the background in Athens June 1, 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis