More work needed yet on elusive Greek bailout deal
By Harry Papachristou and George Georgiopoulos
ATHENS (Reuters) - European leaders expressed optimism on Friday that Greece would secure a new rescue package worth 130 billion euros ($171 billion) though policymakers admitted urgent work was still needed to get its debt-cutting program back on track.
Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker, who will chair a crunch meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Monday, said efforts to slash Greece's debt from 160 percent of output to a target of 120 percent by 2020 were still "far away" from fruition.
"All the discussions I will have ... until Sunday night will try to move the figure nearer to the target," the head of the Eurogroup told reporters in his home capital.
Earlier, Greek caretaker Prime Minister Lucas Papademos talked to fellow euro zone leaders to persuade Berlin and others to back bailout measures needed to stave off bankruptcy.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italy's Mario Monti and Papademos all voiced optimism about an accord during a three-way conference call, Monti's office said in a statement.
The Greek premier also spoke to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and state television said he would pursue talks with euro zone partners "to create a positive mood in view of Monday's meeting and to dispel doubts that could thwart this agreement."
A brief message by Rutte on his Twitter account noted simply of the call with Papademos: "I have pointed out to him that the Greek people should comply with all demands to get a new program."
Rutte's finance minister, Jan Kees de Jager, indicated on Thursday that the whole deal had been close to falling apart earlier in the week, saying that if a planned meeting of the Eurogroup of finance ministers had gone ahead two days ago, he and his German and Finnish counterparts would have voted against granting Greece more aid. Continued...