Security worries delay start of Greece's new bailout talks

Fri Jul 24, 2015 3:17pm EDT
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By Francesco Guarascio and Lefteris Papadimas

BRUSSELS/ATHENS (Reuters) - Talks on tying up a new bailout deal for Greece failed to start on Friday as had been expected, with officials blaming security worries for delaying the negotiations with international creditors who are detested by many Greeks.

Greek government officials had said this week that the talks on the third bailout program worth up to 86 billion euros ($94 billion) would start in Athens on Friday after negotiations had previously been held in Brussels - away from the public glare.

But representatives of Greece's creditor institutions - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and IMF - said they could not begin until the right location was found, given the talks' sensitivity and the widespread public anger about austerity policies imposed under the first two bailouts.

"There are some logistical issues to solve, notably security-wise," a European Commission official said. "Several options are on the table," the official said, without giving more details.

The Greek parliament has already approved two packages of reform measures, a prerequisite for starting the formal negotiations to hammer out details of the new bailout.

However, another source close to the talks said Greece had been asked to do more on reforms before top international officials could come to Athens.

The government of leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held five months of acrimonious talks with the creditors before they finally offered to start talks on a new bailout - and only after the government missed a debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund and had to close local banks for three weeks.

Tsipras accepted the creditors' terms even though Greek voters had rejected an earlier offer in a referendum.   Continued...

A souvenir shop owner cleans the sidewalk at the Plaka district under the Acropolis hill in Athens, Greece July 23, 2015. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun