banks\ top negotiator quits greece but talks go on
Last Updated : GMT 09:42:07
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Banks\' top negotiator quits Greece, but talks go on

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Banks\' top negotiator quits Greece, but talks go on

Athens - AFP

The top negotiator for Greece\'s private sector creditors left the country Saturday but the talks with the government on a debt writedown would continue, Greek and bank officials said. Charles Dallara, managing director of the Institute of International Finance (IIF), which is representing the banks and financial institutions owed money by Greece, as well as Jean Lemierre, a representative of French bank BNP Paribas, left Athens \"because they had longstanding appointments outside of Greece,\" an IIF spokesman told AFP. \"The negotiations will go on by telephone,\" a source in the Greek finance ministry said, which the IIF spokesman also confirmed. \"Yes, talks are continuing,\" the spokesman said, adding that experts representing the Steering Committee remain in Athens and are working with government officials. The crunch talks on cutting around 100 billion euros ($129 billion) from Greece\'s massive debt of more 350 billion euros began Wednesday and were adjourned late Friday with both sides expressing optimism about the outcome. \"Progress was made late yesterday and we believe this is now a very important moment,\" the IIF spokesman said. The IIF also called on all parties to the talks \"to act in a decisive way and seize the opportunity to finalise this historic accord,\" it said in a statement earlier Saturday. The goal is to shrink Greece\'s debt burden to 120 percent of gross domestic product by 2020 from the current 160 percent. A source close to Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said the IIF had agreed with the government on the main points of a deal but there were still some details to iron out with the private creditors. Reports said the interest rate to be offered for new bonds that will replace the maturing debt that is being written down was still a stumbling block. This crucial issue caused a suspension of talks last week, with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund demanding an interest rate of around three percent while the IIF was insisting on more than four percent. The Greek financial daily Naftemporiki reported that the coupon on new bonds would be between 3.25 percent and 4.75 percent. At a teleconference Friday between the Greek government and its European partners as well as the IMF, the Kathimerini newspaper reported, there was pressure for the coupon to be less than 3.8 percent. Greece is under the gun for a payment of 14.4 billion euros on March 20 and a deal is needed to keep the country from default. Representatives of the so-called troika -- the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank -- met Saturday with the Greek ministers for labour and health to discuss reforms demanded in exchange for the next loan installment. A debt deal is also necessary in order to open the way for a new eurozone rescue package worth another 130 billion euros. Athens wants an outline of an accord to be ready by Monday, when eurozone finance ministers are to meet, and a full agreement by January 30 when the European Union will hold a summit.

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