Belfast Telegraph

Greek minister in talks on new loan package

Greece's new finance minister is meeting a delegation of international creditors in Athens to put the finishing touches to a €28bn (£25bn) austerity package.

It must be passed by Parliament next week if the country is to get its hands on crucial bailout funds.

Greece's creditors are demanding Greek lawmakers back fresh budget cuts and taxes in the austerity bill and an additional implementation law by the end of June.

Only then will they approve the release of the next batch of loans, worth €12bn (£10.7bn), from Greece's €110bn (£98bn) bailout loans.

Without that money, Greece will face the real prospect of running out of money by the middle of July. A default by the country could drag down Greek and European banks, endanger the finances of other weak eurozone countries such as Portugal, Ireland and Spain, and spark financial uncertainty across world markets.

European officials are also discussing extra help for Greece in the form of a new bailout.

Evangelos Venizelos, who was appointed finance minister last week in a cabinet reshuffle following days of political turmoil, is meeting the heads of delegations from the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, known as the troika, to discuss the final details to the two bills.

The talks in Athens come as Prime Minister George Papandreou, who survived a confidence vote in his government on Tuesday, heads to Brussels for a summit of European Union leaders.

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