Merkel, Hollande, Tsipras agree to intensify debt talks
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The leaders of Germany and France agreed with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday that negotiations between Greece and its creditors must be intensified to reach a deal to avert a Greek default but there was no sign of a breakthrough.
A German government spokesman said after Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande reviewed the state of the talks with Tsipras on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels that the meeting took place in a constructive atmosphere.
"It was agreed unanimously that the talks between the Greek government and the institutions (IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank) should be pursued with great intensity," the spokesman said in a statement.
The talks have been deadlocked over Greece's rejection of the creditors' demands for cuts in pensions and unpopular labor market reforms as conditions for releasing frozen bailout funds.
Greece is likely to default at the end of June if it does not receive fresh funds to enable it to make a 1.6 billion euro repayment to the International Monetary Fund.
After a meeting that lasting about an hour and 45 minutes, a Greek government official said: "The three leaders agreed to intensify the process of bridging the remaining differences aiming to reach a timely deal that would allow Greece to return to growth with social cohesion and a sustainable debt."
Neither side gave details of the substance of the talks. It was the fifth conversation among the three leaders in less than two weeks, highlighting the seriousness of top-level efforts to prevent a breakdown that could force Greece out of the euro zone.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke, Renee Maltezou and Adrian Croft; Writing by Paul Taylor)
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