March 7, 2015 / 4:29 PM / 4 years ago

Eurogroup head responds positively to new Greek letter: government

Eurogroup Chairman and Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem waits to testify before the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee in Brussels February 24, 2015. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

ΑΤΗΕΝS (Reuters) - The head of the euro zone finance ministers responded positively to Greece’s request for an immediate start to technical talks with international creditors to conclude the country’s current bailout program, a Greek government official said on Saturday.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis sent a letter to Jeroen Djisselbloem on Friday, outlining the first batch of reforms that Greece would implement as a condition for further aid by its EU/IMF lenders.

“Eurogroup’s head Djisselbloem sent a letter late last night responding to Finance Minister Varoufakis,” the official said.

“He responded positively to the Greek minister, underlining the need for the negotiations to continue at the Euroworking Group and between the technical teams in order to implement the Feb. 20 decision.”

Under a deal with its lenders last month, the new Greek government has until the end of April to specify the measures it will implement in turn for further aid. Euro zone finance ministers are meeting on Monday in Brussels to discuss Athens’ letter of pledged reforms.

On Thursday, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi added to pressure on Greece’s government to implement promised reforms, saying the ECB would resume normal lending to Greek banks only when it sees Athens is complying with its bailout program and is on track to receive a favorable review.

He also made clear the ECB would not raise a limit on Athens’ issuance of short-term debt to help leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras avert a funding crunch, since the EU treaty barred monetary financing of governments.

Tsipras’ office said the prime minister had a constructive phone conversation with Draghi on Saturday during which he stressed that he respects the ECB’s independence which is not influenced by political pressure.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Karolina Tagaris and Stephen Powell

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