Stalled Greek bailout talks to resume in Paris on Tuesday

Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:24pm EST
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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's government will resume stalled talks with EU/IMF lenders in Paris on Tuesday, as Athens pushes to conclude a review by inspectors so it can make an early exit to an unpopular bailout program.

Athens had set a Dec. 8 deadline to complete the review. But talks floundered over a projected 2015 budget gap and EU/IMF inspectors did not return as expected to Athens this month, leading to concerns that any delays would derail Greece's plan to quit its bailout by the end of the year.

The two sides will meet in Paris "to advance the review and examine the framework for the day after" the bailout ends, the Greek Finance Ministry said in a statement.

Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the aim remained to conclude the review by Dec. 8, when eurogroup finance ministers will meet, and that the troika -- a team of officials from the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank -- would return to Athens after the Paris talks.

"We are on a good path, difficulties are significant but a solution will be found," he told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

"Measures that will annoy citizens will not be taken. This is a fundamental decision from which we will not stray."

Greece's government has staked its own survival on abandoning ahead of schedule the 240-billion-euro bailout program, which has entailed unpopular austerity measures.

Samaras needs to push through his candidate in a presidential vote in February to avoid being forced to call early elections and is hoping exiting the bailout will help win him enough support to survive the vote.

But the final bailout review, like most reviews before it, has struggled amid rows over reforms and austerity cuts.   Continued...

A man plays a laterna at a central market street of  Athens November 8, 2014.  REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis