Greece, creditors seen closing in on third bailout accord



Greece and its creditors were to resume talks in Athens on Sunday with both sides indicating that the terms of a third bailout will be finalised in short order.

The finance and economy ministers, Euclid Tsakalotos and Giorgos Stathakis, were to go back into the talks with the ECB, the International Monetary Fund and the European Stability Mechanism at 2:00 pm (1100 GMT).

They are finalising the draft of a crucial new bailout of up to 86 billion euros ($94 billion) in exchange for further reforms before the debt-ridden country must repay 3.4 billion euros to the European Central Bank on August 20.

Stathakis said ahead of negotiations on Saturday that lasted more than six hours that the talks were “in the final stretch”.

On Sunday, pro-government newspaper Avgi said: “All signs are pointing to an agreement… possibly being reached even today.”

It added that parliament could vote on the accord this week, or that eurozone finance ministers could approve it first on Friday, after which parliament would vote on it on August 18.

Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported Sunday that the Greek government would likely approve a 27-page draft memorandum of reform commitments this weekend to allow the new bailout to go through before the August 20 repayment deadline.

With its lenders insisting on “very good cooperation” from Athens, both sides are “working flat out” and “intense talks with Greece will continue over the weekend,” an EU source said.

An agreement will have to be reached by August 17 to prevent Greece from having to ask for a bridging loan to avoid another loan default.

The cash-strapped country already missed two key payments to the IMF that were due on June 30 and July 13, but the repayments — amounting to around two billion euros — were later made possible with a short-term EU loan.

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