IMF’s Lagarde rules out payment delay for Greece
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde warned Athens Thursday it cannot delay a huge payment due at the end of the month, piling on the pressure as eurozone ministers sought a deal on the Greek debt crisis.
Lagarde laid down the law as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was still convinced an agreement was possible to save Greece from defaulting and crashing out of the euro if Athens made concessions.
Europe’s main stock markets fell as euro area’s finance ministers poured cold water on hopes that their meeting in Luxembourg could end the stand-off between the anti-austerity Greek government and its creditors.
“There will be no period of grace,” Lagarde told reporters in Luxembourg. “I have a term of June 30 — if it’s not paid by July 1, it’s not paid.”
The crisis is nearing a climax with Greece’s international bailout due to end on June 30 before Athens gets the last 7.2-billioneuro (US$8.1 billion) tranche, and without a deal it will be unable to pay the IMF.