Greece: Faint hopes for a last-minute deal over the weekend

BRUSSELS  — The latest developments involving Greece and its bailout negotiations:


5:35 p.m./ 1535GMT/ 11:35 a.m. EDT

The eurozone’s top official, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, says new proposals from Greece came in too late for a proper assessment during the European Union summit, which will end on Friday. That has forced the negotiations to stretch into the weekend.

He says the international creditors “will have a last look at the last Greek proposals which came in very late.”

A eurozone finance ministers’ meeting broke up Thursday without a deal for Greece. It will resume Saturday.

Dijsselbloem says the issues are so technical it is pointless to keep the ministers in Brussels while technical experts assess the new proposals’ validity. “The door is still open for the Greek side to come with new proposals or to accept what is on the table.”

He insists it would not be easy: “We are very — on a number of issues — quite far apart. So it is going to be difficult.”


5:30 p.m./ 1530GMT/ 11:30 a.m. EDT

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, says Greece’s creditors need more time to examine new offers Athens has made.

She said Thursday after a meeting on Greece broke up without a deal: “We were given a proposal by the Greek parties at the last hour. We need to so some more work to examine their proposals, to see how it can be reconciled.”

She added: “We really want to show flexibility and we want to be as growth friendly as possible and we want to work. But it has to be balanced.”


4:50 p.m./ 1450GMT/ 10:50 a.m. EDT

Finnish Finance Ministrer Alexander Stubb says that the eurozone meeting on Greece has wrapped for the day without an agreement on new bailout loans for the country.

Stubb wrote on his official Twitter account: “Eurogroup back later, but not today.”

The decision is a big setback since there had been hopes to wrap up the bailout negotiations in time for European leaders to approve a deal later in the day.

Greece needs new loans by June 30, when it has a debt repayment it cannot otherwise afford.


10:45 a.m. EDT/ 1445GMT

The International Monetary Fund says Greece will not get any extra time to make a debt repayment it owes the organization on June 30.

Greece owes the IMF 1.6 billion euros on June 30 but does not have the money to pay it. It is in talks with creditors, including the IMF, on getting more loans before then.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice says “We’re expecting the payment to be made June 30,” adding that Greece will be granted no extensions.

He says creditors are “on the same page” about the need for Athens to introduce deeper reforms. The creditors say a Greek proposal this week didn’t go far enough and needs to make deeper cuts in the costly pension system, while sparing the poor.

Despite the impasse in talks, the IMF says it would be flexible. “The IMF doesn’t do take it or leave it,” Rice said. “That’s not how we work. It’s always give and take.”


4:15 p.m./ 1415GMT/ 10:15 a.m. EDT

French President Francois Hollande is exhorting Greece and its international creditors to speed up talks on new loans for the country, as a default would affect the entire continent.

With decisive talks between dragging on for days, Hollande says that “when Greece, Europe, the eurozone is at stake, we have to know how to finish negotiations.”

He said Thursday as he entered a summit of European Union leaders: “There is nothing to gain by letting time go by. I think Greece has none left.”

The leaders were meant to rubberstamp any deal on Greece, but an agreement remains elusive.


4:00 p.m./ 1400GMT/ 10:00 a.m. EDT

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says officials have “not yet made the necessary progress” in the talks to get Greece more financial aid.

As she arrived for a summit of European Union leaders Thursday, she told reporters that “in some places we even have the impression that we are falling back a bit.”

She said the negotiating was a matter for the eurozone finance ministers and technical experts. The talks are about what reforms Greece should adopt in exchange for loans.

Creditors, which include eurozone states like Germany as well as the International Monetary Fund, have made their reform proposals and Greece has submitted its own. Differences remain, however.


2:40 p.m./ 1240 GMT/ 8:40 a.m. EDT

The head of Germany’s national central bank is warning that the lifeline keeping Greece’s banks afloat may run afoul of European rules.

Jens Weidmann, who sits on the governing council of the European Central Bank, says the long-term provision of emergency credit to Greek banks “has become the banks’ only source of funding.”

He said lending to banks that can’t borrow elsewhere so they can lend to a government in similar straights “raises serious monetary financing concerns.” That means Weidmann questions whether the practice violates the European Union’s legal prohibition on using central bank powers to finance governments.

The ECB must decide at regular intervals whether to continue to permit Greece banks to draw such emergency credit. Turning off the credit could deepen financial turmoil. Weidmann has only one vote on the 25-member ECB board but a significant one since represents Germany, the eurozone’s largest member.


1:55 p.m./ 1155 GMT/ 7:55 a.m. EDT

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says he’s not hopeful about the prospects for Thursday’s meeting of finance ministers because Greece’s negotiating stance appears to have gone backward.

Greece and its creditors are in talks on what reforms the country should make to get more loans it needs to avoid default next week.

Schaeuble says the Greek government so far has “not moved, rather moved backward, and so I am not very confident for our meeting today.”

He says there is nothing new on the table and added that “there is a bigger difference rather than a coming together.”

Schaeuble insists “the decision lies exclusively with those responsible in Greece.”


1:50 p.m./ 1150 GMT/ 7:50 a.m. EDT

The eurozone’s top official says creditors are presenting Greece today with a new proposal on reforms it should make in return for loans.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutchman who heads the eurozone finance ministers’ meetings, held talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras earlier in the day to seek a breakthrough.

He said the creditors have made proposals, but says that “we don’t have an agreement on the Greeks from that.”

He says eurozone finance ministers will hear “from the Greek side what their ideas are, what they could agree to, what they could not agree to.”


1:00 p.m./ 1100 GMT/ 7:00 a.m. EDT

Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling is amazed at the apparent lack of urgency in Greece’s negotiations over a bailout deal.

With the clock clicking down to Tuesday, when Greece has a debt repayment it cannot afford, Schelling says “it is really surprising how carefree Greece deals with its business and constantly comes up with new requests.”

After days of talks, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has made changes to proposed reforms his country would make in exchange for loans.

Tsipras, meanwhile, has complained that the International Monetary Fund came up with last-minute conditions on how the Greek reform program should work.


12:45 p.m./ 1045 GMT/ 6:45 a.m. EDT

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has wrapped up the latest round of talks in Brussels with the leaders of the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.

Tsipras gave a thumbs-up as he left, but participants and other senior officials have otherwise declined to speak about the state of the negotiations.

Greece and the creditors are in talks on what reforms it should make to get more bailout loans.

Meanwhile, eurozone finance ministers begin arriving for their meeting. They will assess what technical experts have made of reform proposals made by Greece.


12:30 p.m./ 0930 GMT/ 5:30 a.m. EDT

A Greek banking official says the European Central Bank has approved a request from Athens to increase the amount of emergency liquidity Greek lenders can tap from the country’s central bank.

The ECB approved the request Thursday, as it has done every day since Friday as Greece headed into the final stretch of tough bailout negotiations with no clear solution in sight. The banking official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision was not publicly released, said the ECB would meet again within the next 24 hours if necessary.

Worried Greeks have been withdrawing their money from their country’s banks, fearing the imposition of restrictions on banking transactions. An estimated more than 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) left Greek banks last week. – AP