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Greece deal with EU, IMF could come soon

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European Council’s President Donald Tusk (R), shakes hands with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L), following their meeting in Athens, on April 5, 2017. Greece has asked for a eurozone summit to be held, if creditor talks of April 7, 2017 fail, to break months of deadlock on the country’s debt and reform goals, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on April 5, 2017. However, both Tsipras and Tusk insisted such a step would not be necessary. The EU president said he had “no doubt” there would be a breakthrough. / AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI

EU President Donald Tusk Wednesday expressed cautious optimism that a deal could be reached soon between Greece and its creditors to keep funds flowing to the country.

“I feel today a very significant and real progress in our discussions”, after months of impasse, Tusk said, after meeting Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, as he began his visit of Athens.

“I hope that we are very close to a final solution in this phase of our negotiations”, Tusk said.

Negotiations between Athens and its eurozone and IMF creditors have dragged on for months amid disagreements on debt relief and budget targets for the country.

But “we should be still very cautious,” Tusk added.

“This optimistic grand finale will be possible thanks to the readiness of Greek people to sacrifice something.”

Tusk is also meeting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and the two are scheduled to give a joint press conference afterwards.

Tusk’s visit comes after Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos relaunched talks between Greece and its creditors in Brussels Tuesday.

Upon leaving the meetings that stretched into late Tuesday, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem tweeted “good progress” in the talks and said they would continue on Wednesday.

Tsipras said Sunday that “significant steps” would be needed on reducing his country’s debt in order for Athens to finalise a long-delayed deal with its international creditors.

Among the measures reportedly demanded by Greece’s creditors are additional pension cuts, a reduced tax-exemption ceiling, and further deregulation of the energy and labour markets.



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