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Greece reaches new deal with lenders after marathon talks

AFP/File photo

Greece and international creditors agreed on a new multi-billion-euro bailout deal early on Tuesday after talks continued overnight, a finance ministry official said, adding that the deal will keep the country in the eurozone and avert bankruptcy.


“Two or three small issues” are still pending in the agreement with lenders, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told reporters, following 23 hours of talks with European institutions and the International Monetary Fund that began Monday morning in Athens.

Greece and its international creditors were locked in talks overnight to seal a multi-billion-euro bailout deal, racing against a countdown to European Central Bank (ECB) debt repayments falling due within days.

The European Commission said later that Greece had reached a technical agreement "in principle" with international creditors on a third bailout but that the deal will require political approval.

"What we have at the moment is a technical-level agreement ... and small details need to be finalised. What we don't have is a political agreement," said commission spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt.

"European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has been in close contact with the [negotiating] teams on the ground," Breidthardt said.

"He also had phone conversations yesterday with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and he will speak today to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande," she said.

The indebted country was hoping to wrap up a deal for €86 billion ($94.75 billion) in fresh loans so it can get parliamentary and other approvals for aid to flow by August 20, when a €3.2 billion debt payment is due to the ECB.

Details still under wraps

Neither side offered many details of the deal.

"As long are negotiations are ongoing and no political agreement is reached, we will not comment on the details of any agreement," Breidthardt said.

An agreement would mark the end of a painful chapter of aid talks for Greece, which fought against the austerity terms demanded by creditors for much of the year before accepting a deal under the threat of being kicked out of the eurozone.

After lengthy negotiations on both Sunday and Monday, Greece's finance minister said talks were going “quite well” and was optimistic that an agreement will be reached soon.

Both sides agreed on the final fiscal targets that should govern the bailout effort, aiming for a primary budget surplus (which excludes interest payments) from 2016, a government official said earlier on Tuesday.

The targets foresee a primary budget deficit of 0.25 percent of gross domestic product in 2015, a 0.5 percent surplus from 2016, 1.75 percent in 2017 and a 3.5 percent surplus in 2018, the official said.


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