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Greece Delays Rescue Deal

Greece appeared intent on taking make-or-break talks over a €130bn (£108bn) rescue programme for the debt-choked country down to the wire tonight as officials announced that the discussions would be delayed.

Confounding market expectation and European hopes, the government said agreement over the conditions attached to further aid could not be reached as a meeting between political chiefs and the prime minister, Lucas Papademos, had been deferred until today.

“All parties have basically accepted the deal,” said a well-briefed source, referring to the three elements in Papademos’s national unity coalition. “But it is felt that the details have to be fine-tuned. The leaders want to know what they are signing up to.”

With Greece staring at the spectre of bankruptcy – barely six weeks before it has to make bond repayments worth €14.5bn – EU officials expressed disbelief that politicians could not finally put their name to an accord.

Unable to conceal her own exasperation, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said: “I honestly can’t understand how additional days will help.

“Time is of the essence. A lot is at stake for the entire eurozone,” she said after holding debt crisis talks in Paris with the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Papademos, a technocrat who was appointed to the post with the express purpose of passing the measures to secure the bailout deal, originally told the leaders to conclude talks by midday.

But the deadline came and went. Infuriated, Amadeu Altafaj-Tardio, a spokesman for the European economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn, said: “The truth is we are already beyond deadline … the ball is in the court of the Greek authorities.”

via Disbelief as Greek politicians delay deal on €130bn rescue package | Business | The Guardian.

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