The Latest on Greece: Talks on bailout proving 'very tough'

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Posted: Jun 24, 2015 12:28 PM
The Latest on Greece: Talks on bailout proving 'very tough'

BERLIN (AP) — The latest developments on the Greek bailout negotiations:

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6:25 p.m. (1625 GMT, 12:25 p.m. EDT)

A Greek government official says talks with creditors are proving tough.

The country's representatives are in Brussels to negotiate what reforms the government should make to get more bailout loans. The International Monetary Fund, a key creditor, has indicated that Greece's proposed reforms are too focused on tax increases, rather than spending cuts.

The Greek official said: "These are very tough negotiations... But there is a common will to get somewhere."

The official said creditors are demanding, among other things, a freeze on pensions, scrapping some proposed taxes and surcharges on business, and higher sales tax on some goods.

The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because the talks were ongoing.

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3:20 p.m. (1320 GMT, 9:20 a.m. EDT)

German Finance Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said his delegation was heading to a meeting on Greece with "realistic expectations" and its impression was that plenty of work remains to be done.

He said Greece's creditors had shown flexibility toward Greece in talks about how much in budget savings the country should make in return for new bailout loans.

"We now assume that it is up to the Greek side now to move," he said.

Greece needs more loans to be able to make a debt repayment on June 30.

Separately, a senior German official insisted a deal with Greece would have to include the International Monetary Fund and "that won't change in the coming days." The IMF and Greece disagree on some of the reforms the country has proposed.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with department rules.

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13:10 p.m. (1110 GMT, 7:10 a.m. EDT)

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says Europe has a "moral obligation" to help Greece with a bailout deal but warns that public opinion is not on its side and that there must be "reciprocal" measures on the part of the Athens government.

Renzi spoke to lawmakers Wednesday ahead of an EU summit on Thursday where Greece's bailout was expected to be discussed.

He said there was a minority in Europe that wanted leaders to take a harder stance on Greece.

"There is a great pressure from part of the European public opinion, from some countries in particular, to use this window that is opening as an opportunity to close down with Greece, get rid once and for good of the presence of Greece in the eurozone."

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12:10 p.m. (1010 GMT, 6:10 a.m. EDT)

Stock markets are falling amid concerns about a deal with Greece, with some differences remaining with creditors over the reforms the country needs to make to get more bailout loans.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is in Brussels to meet the heads of key creditor institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission.

The IMF is cautious about the mix of reforms Greece has proposed, saying they rely too heavily on tax increases that can hurt the economy. Tsipras was critical of those views going into the meeting, suggesting there is heavy negotiating before any deal is reached Wednesday.

Eurozone finance ministers will meet later in the day, also in Brussels, to finalize the details.

The Athens stock exchange was down 3.1 percent, while the Stoxx 50 of top European shares was 0.7 percent lower, having traded slightly higher earlier.

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12:00 p.m. (1000 GMT, 6:00 a.m. EDT)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has lashed out at objections raised by his country's creditors to the latest Greek reform proposals designed to unblock bailout funds.

Tsipras is in Brussels for a critical meeting with the heads of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission.

The IMF has reportedly objected to Greece's latest proposals, saying they rely too heavily on tax increases rather than spending cuts, and risk hurting the economy.

A Greek official says that before departure, Tsipras spoke to his colleagues about "the insistence of certain institutions to not accept equivalent measures" — meaning measures designed to generate the same amount of savings as those proposed by creditors.

The official quoted Tsipras as saying that "this strange stance can hide two possibilities. Either they don't want a deal, or they are serving particular interests in Greece."

The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

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11:25 a.m. (0925 GMT, 5:25 a.m. EDT)

A Greek banking official says the European Central Bank has increased the amount of emergency credit Greek banks can access for the third consecutive day.

The credit is meant to help the Greek banks cope with an increase in money withdrawals from Greeks concerned about the country's financial future. Greece is in talks with creditors this week to get more bailout loans to avoid bankruptcy next week.

If necessary, the ECB's board will meet again within the next 24 hours to discuss further increases, the banking official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision wasn't publicly announced.

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11:20 a.m. (0920 GMT, 5:20 a.m. EDT)

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has arrived in Brussels to meet with the heads of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union's executive Commission.

The meeting is meant to smooth over some differences on the reforms that Greece proposed to creditors in exchange for rescue loans that it needs to not default on a debt payment June 30.

Later in the day, the 19 finance ministers from the eurozone states will discuss the proposal in more detail, before government leaders meet for a summit on Thursday.

The IMF has been cautious about Greece's proposed reforms, which are heavily focused on tax increases that can hit businesses, rather than public spending cuts.