Greece inches closer to deal on aid: official

Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:05pm EDT
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By Lefteris Papadimas and Harry Papachristou

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece hopes to clinch a deal with its lenders Tuesday for continued aid funding, an official said, after it pledged to take on as much austerity as needed to avoid a default that could trigger deeper turmoil on already shaky global markets.

EU finance ministers expressed doubt over the weekend that Greece could meet its obligations and the International Monetary Fund warned Athens to implement agreed reforms or miss an 8 billion euro ($11 billion) aid tranche slated for October vital to keeping state finances afloat. [ID:nL5E7KJ1NN]

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the country would do what was necessary to get the aid but would not allow itself to be a scapegoat for euro zone policymakers who had failed to deal with the region's debt woes.

He held a phone call with members of the so-called "troika" of IMF, European Union, and European Central Bank officials late Monday.

A Greek finance ministry official indicated the two sides had come closer to an agreement but more details were needed from Athens.

"The climate was better than we expected," the official said, on condition of anonymity. "We are close to a deal and we hope to conclude tomorrow. The government will make an announcement most likely Wednesday, after a cabinet meeting."

Earlier in the day, the IMF's representative in Greece, Bob Traa, made clear that patience among Greece's international lenders was running out.

"The ball is in the Greek court. Implementation is of the essence," Traa told an economic conference.   Continued...