Greece and lenders in final push to seal new bailout

Mon Aug 10, 2015 2:10pm EDT
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By Lefteris Papadimas and George Georgiopoulos

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece and its international creditors sought to put final touches to a multi-billion euro bailout accord on Monday to keep the country financially afloat and meet an important debt repayment to the European Central Bank within days.

Germany set out "strict" conditions for further aid and said it would be sensible to link the size of the first tranche to Greece's progress in carrying out reforms, a reflection of worry around the euro zone that Athens might not do as promised.

Greece is hoping to wrap up the deal for 86 billion euros ($94 billion) in fresh loans by Tuesday so it can get parliamentary and other approvals for aid to flow by Aug. 20, when a debt repayment to the ECB is due.

After lengthy negotiations on Sunday and Monday, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said talks were going "quite well" and was optimistic that an agreement will be reached soon.

"I don't know if it will be tomorrow morning, but soon means soon," Tsakalotos told reporters.

The European Commission also said a deal could be reached within August, "preferably before Aug. 20."

An agreement would mark the end of a painful chapter on bailout talks for Greece, which fought against austerity terms demanded by creditors for much of the year before accepting a deal under the threat of being bounced out of the euro zone.

A senior Greek government official said dealing with a mountain of non-performing loans in the banking sector remained a sticking point. Athens wants to set up a "bad bank" to handle this, while creditors want non-performing loans bundled and sold to distressed asset funds.   Continued...

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras   in central Athens, Greece, August 5, 2015.  REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou