Greece's Tsipras says loan deal with lenders close

The Pak Banker - - INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS/SPORTS -

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras said on Wed­nes­day that Greece was close to con­clud­ing a deal with lenders on a multi-bil­lion-euro bailout, which he said would end doubts over its place in the euro zone. The com­ments were the latest in a se­ries of un­usu­ally up­beat assess­ments by Greek and Euro­pean of­fi­cials of progress in talks to­wards up to 86 bil­lion eu­ros ($93.6 bil­lion) in fresh loans to stave off the coun­try's fi­nan­cial ruin and eco­nomic col­lapse.

"We are in the fi­nal stretch," Tsipras said. "...De­spite the dif­fi­cul­ties we are fac­ing we hope this agree­ment can end un­cer­tainty on the fu­ture of Greece."

An ac­cord must be set­tled by Aug. 20, when a 3.5 bil­lion euro debt pay­ment to the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank falls due. Both sides have said such a deal is pos­si­ble, although the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion de­scribed the tar­get as am­bi­tious, sug­gest­ing much re­mains to be done.

Dis­cus­sions be­tween Greece and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the IMF, ECB, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and the euro zone's bailout fund, the Euro­pean Sta­bil­ity Mech­a­nism, started in the last week of July. Tsipras, who was vis­it­ing the agri­cul­ture min­istry, said the process should also po­ten­tially in­clude the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, in­di­rectly al­lud­ing to past com­plaints over the le­git­i­macy of de­mands from lenders. "It should at some point be un­der the con- trol and mon­i­tor­ing of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, a demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tion which has ac­count­abil­ity," Tsipras said. Over the next two weeks Greece must con­clude loan terms, or at least se­cure a bridge loan. It re­ceived a bridge loan last month to cover its im­me­di­ate fi­nanc­ing needs.Greek of­fi­cials say the coun­try wants a full bailout im­me­di­ately rather than a bridge loan.

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