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Greek leader renews EU bailout push

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras has renewed his diplomatic offensive to try to convince European creditors to pay out the bailout loans the country needs to avoid default.

The creditors have made it clear that Greece has to improve its offer of economic reforms before they release 7.2 billion euro (£5.3bn) the country needs to pay debts due at the end of the month.

Mr Tsipras had a short meeting with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and they promised to continue talking on Thursday.

There was widespread expectation that Mr Tsipras would also meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on the sidelines of a European Union-Latin America summit.

The meeting came after Mr Juncker's European Commission had said the offers made by Greece last week were still not good enough to unlock the bailout funds.

"For this final push, the Commission is of the view that the ball is clearly now in the court of the Greek government," Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.

The lack of visible progress in the negotiations over the past weeks has revived fears Greece could default on its debts and drop out of the euro, a move that would create huge uncertainty for Europe and global markets.

"The goal is to keep Greece in the eurozone," Ms Merkel said. "Where there is a will, there is a way."

Yet she insisted it was up to Mr Tsipras first and foremost to show that willingness.

Greece has three weeks left to conclude a deal with its creditors before its bailout program expires at the end of the month, when it will also have to repay about 1.6 billion euros (£1.2bn) to the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Hollande also said he stood ready to meet with Mr Tsipras if need be and stressed the importance of reaching a deal.

"We must be quick. We must not let things drag out," Mr Hollande said.

Athens is at odds with its creditors over what reforms Greece must make in return for the bailout loans. Each side has submitted its own proposals.

But talks have been deadlocked since Athens rejected the creditors' suggestions as irrational last Friday, saying they would make life harder for Greeks already reeling from five years of deep spending cuts and soaring unemployment.

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