Greece mulls next move as clock ticks on debt talks

Sat Jun 20, 2015 6:16pm EDT
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By Lefteris Papadimas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's left-wing government promised on Saturday to offer concessions to creditors to unlock billions of euros in funds and stave off default but kept a defiant anti-austerity tone ahead of a vital summit of euro zone leaders next week.

With its banks hanging on life support from the European Central Bank, and billions of euros being withdrawn daily, Greece may have to impose capital controls within days unless a breakthrough is made at Monday's summit.

While Greece has resisted demands for pension cuts and some tax rises, its leaders continue to say a deal is possible to release 7.2 billion euros in bailout funds from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

However, Europe's leaders have begun to lose patience after months of fruitless wrangling over what budget cuts and reforms Athens is prepared to deliver in exchange.

In a column for Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis promised that Greece was prepared to move, although he gave no details.

"Our side will arrive in Brussels with the determination to compromise further as long as we are not asked to do what previous governments did: to accept new loan tranches under conditions that offer little hope that Greece can repay its debts."

He said German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced a "stark choice" over whether to accept an agreement, adding: "The choice, I am very much afraid, is hers."

Tsipras met his negotiating team in Athens and was expected to speak to European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker by phone to try to break the deadlock before the emergency summit, an EU official said.   Continued...

Protesters occupy the parliament grounds, during a rally calling on the government to clinch a deal with its international creditors and secure Greece's future in the Eurozone, in Athens June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Paul Hanna