Greece and lenders strike upbeat tone, deal seen on bailout

Tue Aug 4, 2015 1:49pm EDT
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By Angeliki Koutantou and Lefteris Karagiannopoulos

ATHENS (Reuters) - Both Greece and its lenders said on Tuesday they were optimistic they could broker a deal within days on a multi-billion euro bailout, striking a surprisingly upbeat tone on a process previously fraught with bitterness.

A bailout worth up to 86 billion euros ($94.5 billion) must be settled by Aug. 20 -- or a second bridge loan agreed -- if Greece is to pay off debt of 3.5 billion euros to the European Central Bank that matures on that day.

Wrapping up a day of talks in Athens, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said negotiations were going better than expected. In Brussels, a Commission official said they were 'encouraged' by progress.

"We are moving in the right direction and intense work is continuing," Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told Reuters.

It will be the indebted nation's third bailout since 2010, designed to stave off bankruptcy and keep the country from toppling out of the euro zone.

Negotiations have been tortuous in the past, bogged down in minutiae of reforms ranging from pensions to shop opening hours.

Over much of this year they were also peppered with angry outbursts about responsibility, sovereignty and even blackmail.

However, sources on the creditors' side briefed on negotiations described the Greeks as being "very, very cooperative" in talks which resumed in the last week of July after weeks of deadlock over bailout terms.   Continued...

Greek flags are displayed for sale for one Euro at a shop in central Athens, Greece July 26, 2015.REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou