June 1, 2015 / 3:39 AM / 2 years ago

EU's Oettinger says Greece deal still possible this week

A lightning strikes next to a Greek national flag in Athens May 28, 2015.Alkis Konstantinidis

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's EU Commissioner Guenter Oettinger said on Monday it might still be possible for Greece and its creditors to reach a deal this week.

"We will need progress at the working group level, in order that we can agree on a reform agenda, perhaps even by the end of the week, which would trigger the payment of the last tranche of aid from the current aid program," Oettinger told Die Welt newspaper in an interview.

Oettinger, however, downplayed expectations of any breakthrough at a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker in Berlin on Monday.

"Greece's challenges are too big to be solved 'en passant'," he said.

Athens and its creditors were continuing talks on a cash-for-reforms deal but were expected to miss a self-imposed Sunday deadline for reaching an agreement to unlock aid, sources close to the talks said.

Pressure to strike a deal has intensified as Greece faces a debt payment on June 5 as well as the expiration of its bailout program on June 30.

Oettinger said the talks had moved forward when it came to reforms such as value-added tax, but said differences on central topics such as the labor market and the pension system were still too big.

Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Rosalind Russell

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