Deal on Greek loan terms eludes euro zone ministers

Euro zone finance ministers will resume talks on a bailout for debt-ridden Greece on Sunday, after eight hours of discussions Saturday failed to produce a breakthrough. Sources said the finance ministers used Saturday’s meeting in Brussels to formulate demands for additional Greek budget and political reforms before they open negotiations on any new loans.

The ministerial-level talks are set to resume at 11am in Brussels (noon in Athens). The ministers, grappling with Greece’s failure to meet a repayment deadline on a loan installment earlier this month, are also seeking additional assurances that Athens will honor terms of any new deal.

Those close to Saturday’s talks said they centered on drafting a joint statement with demands that extend beyond proposals made by Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras in his request for a new three-year, $60 billion loan. Some ministers were also said to be demanding that Greece approve the new terms by early in the week.

The Greek proposals include more pension cuts, tax hikes and defense cuts that analysts say bear a strong resemblance to reforms rejected by Greek voters in a July 5 referendum. All 28 EU leaders are set to convene an emergency summit later Sunday to decide whether to accept the new Greek proposals.

Creditors set to negotiate
Earlier on Saturday, key European creditors reviewed the new Greek proposals and told euro zone governments there was sufficient basis to start negotiating conditional loans for the country.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde struck a conciliatory tone upon arrival at the Eurogroup meeting. “I think we are here to make a lot more progress,” Lagarde said.

But German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, whose country is Greece’s biggest creditor, maintained a hard line. “We will definitely not be able to rely on promises,” he said. “We are determined to not make calculations that everyone knows one cannot believe in.”


(Photo: Theophilos Papadopoulos/