Greece, lenders locked in marathon talks for bailout deal

Mon Aug 10, 2015 7:55pm EDT
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By George Georgiopoulos

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece and its international lenders were locked in marathon overnight talks to seal a multibillion-euro bailout deal on Tuesday, racing against a countdown to European Central Bank debt repayments falling due in days.

The indebted country is hoping to wrap up a deal for 86 billion euros ($94.75 billion) in fresh loans by Tuesday so it can get parliamentary and other approvals for aid to flow by Aug. 20, when a 3.2 billion euro debt payment is due to the ECB.

"We are going into the final round of talks, looking at the Memorandum of Understanding from beginning to end," a senior Greek government official said during a brief break in talks in Athens, referring to terms of the bailout accord.

The latest round of negotiations started early on Monday afternoon.

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.

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 (Tuesday) morning, but soon means soon," Tsakalotos told reporters.

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 attends a meeting at the Agriculture Ministry in central Athens, Greece, August 5, 2015.  REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou