Greek officials, international creditors to meet on February 13

Greece and its international creditors plan to meet Friday to launch technical discussions on the debt-ridden country’s demand to cut its massive debt and ease the austerity measures the lenders imposed on Athens.

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has said the meeting is designed to find common ground between Greece’s goal to end what it sees as crippling austerity and Europe’s adamant stance against changing the terms on more than $300 billion in loans to Athens.

As he attended his first European Union summit in Brussels Thursday, Greece’s new leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reached agreement for Greek officials to meet representatives of the eurozone, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel – austerity’s chief advocate – praised the possible breakthrough in the new Greek government’s contentious relationship with its lenders.

“Europe always has been geared toward finding compromises,” she said.

Greece wants its creditors to give it a bridge loan for several months. Athens says it needs the time to negotiate changes to the austerity plan forced on the country under which wages and pensions have been cut, taxes boosted and thousands of civil servants laid off.