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Talks on Greek bailout to intensify in coming days
Greek and its creditors still remain divided on the second review of Greek debt bailout program and finance ministers of the 19-member Eurozone agreed that talks would continue to intensify in the coming days here, said Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Monday.
A lot of work has been done and progress made, but still some key issues remain, Dijsselbloem told a press conference after Monday's Eurogroup meeting which again failed to make any breakthrough.
"The outcome of today's meeting is that on the basis of the preparatory meeting which we had - myself, the institutions and the Greek authorities - we agreed that talks will continue to intensify in the coming days here in Brussels," Dijsselbloem said.
The upcoming talks would "try to clear those big issues out of the way and come to a full policy package agreement" before next Eurogroup meeting scheduled on April 7, the president added, warning that there was no promise that work would be done then to end the marathon talks.
The talks are aiming for a swift conclusion of the staff-level agreement,which is a necessary condition for the successful conclusion of program reviews and therefore for receiving further financial support available under the program.
But there is a strong agreement and a strong will between all parties involved to finish the remaining issues as quickly as possible, Dijsselbloem said.
Klaus Regling, managing director of the European Stability Mechanism(ESM), said at the same conference that there have been good progress since last Eurogroup meeting, but it is also clear that "a significant number of issues are not resolved" yet.
Those key issues include the growth-friendly rebalancing of Greece's public finances over the medium term (in 2018 and beyond) and the labor market reform.
Regling told reporters that the ESM was able to disburse 71 billion euros (76.2 billion U.S. dollars) to Greece since September 2015, and led to positive impact on the economy of Greece and everything should be done to maintain this momentum.
Greece's economy has been accelerated in 2016 and positive fiscal performance has been seen, he added.
But the managing director warned that uncertainty about the conclusion of the review "may be costly", as the next big debt service payment from Greece is only to due in July.
"So it would be much better to conclude the review well before that time in order to stabilize the economic development," Regling said.
The second review of Greece's third bailout, agreed in the summer of 2015 and is scheduled to run until August 2018, has been delayed for a year, as the two sides have not reached a consensus on the next package of austerity and reform measures.
[Source: Xinhua, Brussels, 20Mar17]
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