Greek bailout talks to resume in Paris on Tuesday
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[November 24, 2014]
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's
government will resume stalled talks with EU/IMF lenders in Paris on
Tuesday, as Athens pushes to conclude a crucial review by inspectors so
it can make an early exit to an unpopular bailout program.
Athens had set a Dec. 8 deadline to complete the review. But talks
floundered over a projected budget gap for next year and EU/IMF
inspectors did not return as expected to Athens this month, leading
to concerns that a delayed review would derail Greece's plan to quit
its bailout by the end of the year.
The two sides will meet in Paris "to advance the review and examine
the framework for the day after", the bailout ends, the Greek
Finance Ministry said in a statement. A ministry official declined
to say if the talks would continue beyond Tuesday, but said the
bailout would not be extended past the end of the year.
Greece's government has staked its own survival on abandoning the
240-billion-euro bailout program, which has entailed unpopular
austerity measures, ahead of schedule. Prime Minister Antonis
Samaras needs to push through his candidate in a presidential vote
in February to avoid being forced to call early elections and is
hoping exiting the bailout will help win him enough support to
survive the vote.
But the final bailout review, like most reviews before it, has
struggled amid rows over reforms and austerity cuts.
Athens and its foreign lenders have been at loggerheads over the
projected deficit for next year, with the lenders arguing Greece
will miss the target of 0.2 percent of gross domestic product
because of a new payback plan for austerity-hit Greeks who owe money
to the state.
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The Greek government, however, has so far resisted changes demanded
by the inspectors, going so far as to submit its 2015 budget to
parliament last week without the approval of lenders.
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and George Georgiopoulous, Writing
by Deepa Babington; Editing by Susan Fenton)
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