Tsipras seeks debt relief as Greeks take offer to Brussels

Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:54pm EDT
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By Renee Maltezou and Jan Strupczewski

ATHENS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he was willing to accept unpalatable compromises to secure a deal with international creditors provided he gets debt relief in return, something that Germany refuses to countenance.

With Greece heading towards possible default and bankruptcy, he told his negotiating team before it took a counter-proposal to Brussels that without debt relief he would reject any settlement that isolates his country from the rest of Europe.

In little more than a fortnight, Athens must repay 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) to the International Monetary Fund with money it does not have.

Greek ministers arrived in Brussels on Saturday to resume negotiations on a cash-for-reforms deal with the EU and IMF creditors that ended in stalemate on Thursday.

The counter-proposal offering concessions on budget issues is designed to break the deadlock that is threatening Greece's future in the euro zone.

Tsipras, who was elected in January on promises to end austerity, made it clear he was willing to give ground but with strings attached that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is unlikely to accept.

"If we have a sustainable solution, regardless of how difficult the compromise is, we will bear the burden because the only criteria are exiting the crisis and the bailouts," a government official quoted Tsipras as telling the ministers on Friday night before they headed to Brussels.

Tsipras used the term "sustainable solution" to refer to a long-standing demand for large parts of Greece's mountainous debts to be written off or rescheduled - something he believes is vital if the Greek economy is to start getting back on its feet after a six-year depression.   Continued...

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) shakes hands with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (R) at the start of an EU-CELAC Latin America summit in Brussels, Belgium June 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Yves Herman