IMF Blinks On Greek Debt Relief

The IMF, which has contributed financially to Greece's first two bailouts but not the third, has wanted more information about what debt relief Greece may get before it gets more involved in the current program.

Moscovici said he hoped enough progress will emerge at the meeting of the so-called Eurogroup to prevent Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras from calling a summit of eurozone leaders to discuss debt relief for his country.

Debt relief "will be implemented at the end of the programme, conditional on its successful implementation" in 2018, said Dijsselbloem, who is also Dutch finance minister.

Payment of the latest tranche of Greece's 86-billion euro ($97-billion) bailout, agreed in 2015, has been held up for months by a row over its needs for debt relief which has pitted bailout-weary Germany against the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He singled out the Greek people for their "intense efforts and resolve" over the past few years of the country's bailout era when successive governments had to enact drastic spending cuts and tax increases in return for the money needed to avoid bankruptcy and a possible exit from the euro currency.

As a consolation, in a compromise negotiated by France, Greece won a certain amount of clarity from the eurozone on debt relief, including an agreement to link debt repayments to Greek growth.

"It's a very constructive decision that will help Greece, also on the global market, to gradually get more credibility", Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna said after the meeting. Schaeuble said on Tuesday he was confident that Greece would reach a deal with lenders this week.

"If further measures are necessary at the end of the program we can take them", he said.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has welcomed a decision by the country's global lenders to approve the disbursement of 8.5 billion euros in bailout loans and to detail medium-term debt relief measures following talks in Luxembourg.

European Union officials have said Greece shouldn't rely on participating in the ECB's quantitative easing program given that it was never a certainty and have pointed out that very few of its bonds are eligible for inclusion.

Speaking after a meeting of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers, Euclid Tsakalots said the country can "look forward with much greater confidence".

"We recognize that we did not want the ideal to be the enemy of the good", he said.

Member states also agreed to a possible extension of average weighted maturities and the deferral of interest payments on some Greek bailout loans by as much as 15 years.

After three bailouts, Greece's debt now stands at a staggering 180 percent of annual output, by far the biggest national debt pile in Europe.

Greece has been demanding debt relief from its creditors, saying it can never get its economy growing again without some help.

"I would like to announce my intention to propose to the IMF's Executive Board the approval in principle of a new International Monetary Fund stand-by arrangement (program) for Greece", IMF head Christine Lagarde announced. Last month he said everything pointed to stronger growth in Greece.

On Thursday, more than 2,000 older Greeks marched through Athens to demonstrate against cuts to monthly pensions.

"We can't live on 300 euros ($334)!" they chanted, with some waving sticks.

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