There was cautious optimism Sunday in Athens that private bondholders would accept lower returns from Greece as part of its dance to avoid bankruptcy. After two days of talks between government officials and the Institute of International Finance, reports from unidentified officials suggested bondholders were willing to back down on their demand 30-year government bonds return no less than 4 percent, The New York Times reported. Unconfirmed reports said bonds could be rewritten to return as little as 3.6 percent, the Times said. That would bring the total bondholder \"sacrifice\" to 70 percent from original terms. The private sector debt pare-back is a strict condition to Greece securing its next $39 million bailout installment from the European Central Bank in coming months. Greece has $272 billion in outstanding securities and could issue lower-rate bonds to replace the old ones, which carry the risk of becoming worthless, the Times said. When the Greek economy began teetering on the brink of collapse two years ago, numerous hedge funds bought millions of dollars worth of bonds at discount prices and it wasn\'t immediately clear if the funds would agree to swapping new bonds for old ones, the report said.