Greek PM says deal on debt close, otherwise summit needed

Greece agreed on a fresh set of reforms with its eurozone creditors today, boosting hopes Athens can unlock fresh bailout cash in time to avert a debt default this summer.

The chairman of euro zone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, told reporters as he entered a meeting of the ministers in Valletta that he was optimistic and that there were "results" in the negotiations, but that he wanted to inform the ministers first.

Tsipras said that Greece achieved a primary budget surplus - before debt payments - of more than 3 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) past year versus a bailout target of 0.5 percent of GDP.

The latest disagreement is over the pension issue. "I have no doubt that there is no alternative to a positive breakthrough on Friday".

The government has, at least for now, said it will legislate measures for the years 2019 and 2020 as long as there is progress in debt relief.

"We have been successful in doing so and we now have an agreement over the overarching policies".

But "we should be still very cautious", Tusk added.

Athens and its creditors are racing to secure a deal ahead of a series of large debt repayments, totalling more than €6bn, that Greece must make in July.

In recent months, there has been an open disagreement between the International Monetary Fund and the eurozone over such matters as the sustainability of Greece's debts going forward.

European Council's President Donald Tusk (R), shakes hands with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L), following their meeting in Athens, on April 5, 2017.

Talks stepped up earlier this week as Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos led a Greek delegation to Brussels to try to overcome the differences.

The bailout talks have been delayed for months, freezing the payout of a rescue loan installment and hurting chances of a Greek economic recovery after years of recession and turmoil.

Greece's global lenders are ready to send experts to Athens who will sign off on the country's reforms, helping to unlock new lending, euro zone officials said.

"The situation in Greece is not improving and that is something we are responsible for".

So far, the country has received about €32 billion in loans in exchange for austerity measures that included reforms on pensions, income tax, and the labor market. These will require approval by Greece's parliament, where Tsipras holds a three-seat majority.

  • Zachary Reyes