Greek deal with­out IMF ‘unimag­in­able’: Di­js­sel­bloem

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Eu­rogroup chief Jeroen Di­js­sel­bloem said Fri­day that a bailout deal for cash-strapped Greece with­out the IMF’s in­volve­ment would be “unimag­in­able.”

With­out the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund, a deal is “unimag­in­able be­cause it needs to have proper con­tent and if it has proper con­tent, the IMF will also par­tic­i­pate,” Di­js­sel­bloem told jour­nal­ists in The Hague, a day af­ter the Fund pulled its team out of talks with Athens.

The IMF on Thurs­day with­drew from eleventh-hour talks in Brussels, say­ing an agree­ment re­mained far-off af­ter a five-month stale­mate with Greece’s an­ti­aus­ter­ity gov­ern­ment, which faces be­ing un­able to pay huge debts at the end of the month.

“There are still ma­jor dif­fer­ences be­tween us in most key ar­eas,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice later told re­porters in Wash­ing­ton, adding no progress in nar­row­ing dif­fer­ence has been made.

“Thus we are well away from an agree­ment,” he said.

But Di­js­sel­bloem said: “If the IMF walks out — which they won’t I’m sure, then part of the pro­gram’s fi­nanc­ing will be gone and then we no longer have a base.”

“The IMF’s in­volve­ment is in­dis­pen­si­ble,” said Di­js­sel­bloem, who is also the Dutch fi­nance min­is­ter.

The IMF has said the “ball is very much in Greece’s court right now” — while adding that it “never leaves the ta­ble and re­mains en­gaged.”

It said the key dis­agree­ments were on pen­sions, taxes and fi­nanc­ing.

The Greek gov­ern­ment, for its part, said Thurs­day it would “in­ten­sify” ef­forts to re­solve dif­fer­ences with its cred­i­tors, “in­clud­ing in the next 24 hours.”

The IMF is the most hard-line of Greece’s three bailout mon­i­tors — the oth­ers be­ing the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank — who have de­manded tough re­forms in ex­change for un­lock­ing the re­main­ing 7.2 bil­lion eu­ros (US$8.1 bil­lion) of its 240-bil­lioneuro res­cue pack­age.

With­out fresh ex­ter­nal fund­ing when the bailout ex­pires on June 30, cash-strapped Greece is set to de­fault on its debts, mean­ing it could crash out of the eu­ro­zone de­spite ben­e­fit­ing from two in­ter­na­tional bailouts since 2010.

The cri­sis is now set to go to the wire with a Eu­rogroup meet­ing of eu­ro­zone fi­nance min­is­ters in Lux­em­bourg on June 18 seen as the last chance to seal a deal in time to get it through na­tional par­lia­ments by the end of the month.

Di­js­sel­bloem said the meet­ing “is set, whether we’ll be able to talk about a con­cept agree­ment or not.”

“I do think it’s in Greece’s in­ter­est to get an agree­ment, but cur­rently it’s not hur­ry­ing along,” he said.

Talks in Brussels be­tween Greek Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras and Euro­pean Com­mis­sion chief JeanClaude Juncker broke up Thurs­day with­out reach­ing a deal on re­forms in ex­change for bailout cash.

Tsipras, whose rad­i­cal-left SYRIZA party won elec­tions in Jan­uary with a prom­ise to end five years of aus­ter­ity, has re­fused to back down on the re­forms de­manded by Greece’s cred­i­tors.

AFP

Pro­test­ers take down a huge ban­ner bear­ing a pic­ture of Greek Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras on a Euro­pean Union flag from the min­istry of fi­nance in Athens as they end the oc­cu­pa­tion of the build­ing on Thurs­day, June 11.

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