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EU’s Oettinger says Greece deal possible next week

Germany’s EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Friday he thinks Greece and its creditors should be able to reach a deal but may need another meeting of euro zone leaders next week.

“We are working so that Greece stays in the euro zone,” Oettinger told German radio Deutschlandfunk.

“On this basis I think an agreement will still be possible in the next eight days – if necessary via a further meeting of government leaders,” he said.

The Eurogroup will meet in Brussels on Friday to discuss further help for Greece.

Germany has rejected a Greek proposal for a six-month extension to its euro zone loan agreement, saying it was “not a substantial solution” because it did not commit Athens to stick to the conditions of its international bailout.

Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling was quoted by a newspaper as saying Greece must complete its current bailout package before any new programme can be agreed, in comments which his ministry said came before he saw Greece’s latest loan request.

Schelling told the Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten paper that the request from Athens had to “respect the conditions” of the current bailout programme. Afterwards, “we can discuss a new programme with new conditions, but now the current programme has to be completed”, he was quoted as saying, reiterating his stated position.

However a senior Greek official said ahead of the crucial meeting between the euro zone finance ministers this afternoon that the euro zone and Greece are close to a deal on a financing-for-reforms package.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Greece had made a lot of concessions to reach an agreement and that the euro zone should show some flexibility too.

“We have covered four fifths of the distance, they also need to cover one fifth,” the official said, adding Greece wanted to clinch a deal on Friday, but that it would not back down in the face of pressure from the Eurogroup.

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