Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Greek Talks on New Cuts Extended by Lenders

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Greek Talks on New Cuts Extended by Lenders

Article excerpt

A Finance Ministry official said Sunday that envoys representing foreign lenders would remain in Athens "as long as is necessary" to finish a "credible package."

Envoys for Greece's international lenders have extended their mission to Athens indefinitely, a Finance Ministry official said Sunday, and now plan to stay "as long as necessary" to help government leaders complete a "credible package" of budget savings.

The so-called troika of lenders -- the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- have extended to Greece two loan deals worth EUR 240 billion, or $295.7 billion at the current exchange rate, over the past two years but have expressed frustration at the Greek authorities' slow implementation of overhauls they had promised to make in return for the aid.

The leaders of Greece's fragile coalition government met last week to try to finalize measures to achieve EUR 11.5 billion in budget savings for 2013 and 2014 but failed to reach an agreement. The officials were set to meet again Monday to decide on the package, which is necessary for Greece to continue receiving future installments of aid from the troika. Reluctant to impose more cuts on citizens weary after more than two years of austerity, Greek officials are seeking to avoid further reductions to pensions and social benefits, but there appear to be few alternatives.

The I.M.F.'s envoy to Athens, Poul M. Thomsen, told the Greek finance minister, Yannis Stournaras during a dinner Friday night that "we want to help, and we will stay as long as it takes to prepare the package," said the Finance Ministry official, who was not authorized to comment publicly on talks that were continuing.

The ministry official said the climate of the talks has been "extremely positive." Officials from the troika, who arrived in Athens on Thursday, did not respond to requests for comment on the Greek official's assertion, although Mr. …

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