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Greece Made To Sweat On Bailout Funds

(c) Sky News 2012

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has rounded on the country's lenders over the latest failure to deliver bailout funds to Athens.

Twelve hours of emergency talks in Brussels among eurozone finance ministers and representatives of the troika of lenders ended without agreement.

But they pledged to meet again next Monday "for further technical work on some elements of the package".

Greece is sweating on 31.2 billion euros (£25bn) in aid - suspended in the summer over concerns it was not meeting the conditions of its bailout programme.

In reaction, Mr Samaras said on Wednesday: "Greece did what it had committed it would do . Our partners, together with the IMF (Other OTC: IMFAF.PK - news) , also have to do what they have taken on to do."

The statement continued: "Any technical difficulties in finding a technical solution do not justify any negligence or delays."

While the strict spending plans imposed on Athens are now seen as back on track, one of its lenders - the International Monetary Fund - has demanded no let up in the commitments agreed by the Greeks in return for aid.

A major bone of contention is whether to give Greece, which faces a sixth year in recession, an extra two years, until 2022, to arrive at a point where it can raise its own funds.

The Eurogroup statement released after the Brussels meeting said it had "made progress in identifying a consistent package of credible initiatives aimed at making a further substantial contribution to the sustainability of Greek government debt".

Head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde added: "It was progress but we have to do a little bit more."

The IMF, which along with the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission (EC) form the troika overseeing the Greek bailout, has argued that if Greek debt is to be sustainable in the long run, it must be reduced to 120% of GDP by 2020.

Greece's debt burden is currently nearly 180% of GDP.

Options being considered to help Athens include recycling ECB profits on Greek bonds and lowering the interest rate Greece has to pay.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said a buyback programme of Greek debt on the market "will be carried out."

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