Greece nears bailout deal with euro zone: Sources


BRUSSELS (AFP) – Greece and its sceptical European partners were near a much-needed compromise to agree a request by Athens to extend an EU loan programme that expires this month, sources close to the matter said on Friday.

The euro zone’s 19 finance ministers were gathered in Brussels for the third time in little over a week to consider Athens’ take-it or leave-it proposal.

“It seems that there is a deal in the form of a statement,” a European source told AFP.

“We must wait because this is not yet official and certain delegations may still raise objections,” the source added.

Another European source said: “We still need to await the end of a phone call between (Greek finance minister Yanis) Varoufakis and the Greek prime minister.”

“But there’s a general optimism,” the source added.

The effort to write a final deal statement is what torpedoed the two earlier Eurogroup meetings, with deep divisions between Germany and Greece over the conditions of extending the bailout.

Officials in Athens said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will request an emergency EU summit on Sunday should the talks with eurozone ministers on his country’s loan demands fail.

Greece made the formal request for the loan extension on Thursday, offering concessions including a return – if not in name – of the hated “troika” of creditors that had audited the Greek economy during the bailout.