EU officials note progress in Greek bailout talks, deal possible next week

Fri Aug 7, 2015 7:44pm EDT
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By Paul Taylor and Robert-Jan Bartunek

BRUSSELS/ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece is on track to complete a draft deal on a third bailout by Tuesday and possibly get a first disbursement by Aug. 20 to meet a key payment, sources familiar with a conference call of senior EU finance officials late on Friday said.

Athens is negotiating with European Union institutions and the International Monetary Fund for up to 86 billion euros ($94 billion) in fresh loans to stave off economic collapse and stay in the euro zone.

Senior EU officials assessed the progress in talks between Athens and its international creditors, with Germany warning against haste.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has tried to force the pace of the talks, keen to wrap up agreement on sensitive economic reforms by mid-August, while many Greeks are on holiday, and receive an initial aid disbursement by Aug. 20 in time to make a bond payment to the European Central Bank.

The view of EU officials was that talks are proceeding smoothly and may be completed over the weekend, one source said.

If a draft memorandum of understanding and an updated debt sustainability analysis are ready as planned on Tuesday, the Greek government and parliament would be expected to approve them by Thursday.

This would open the way for euro zone finance ministers to meet or hold a teleconference on Friday to endorse the up to 86 billion euro three-year loan programme for Athens.

Greece would be expected to enact another package of reform legislation before Aug. 20, in parallel with national ratification procedures to receive a first aid payment in time to meet the ECB payment.   Continued...

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras  in Athens, Greece July 31, 2015.  REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou