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7/11/15

Euro zone ministers demand more from Greece for loan talks - by Andreas Rinke and Francesco Guarascio

Skeptical euro zone finance ministers demanded on Saturday that Greece go beyond painful austerity measures accepted by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras if he wants them to open negotiations on a third bailout for his bankrupt country to keep it in the euro.

Ministers lined up to vent their anger at Tsipras on arrival at their umpteenth emergency weekend meeting on Greece's acute debt crisis, with Athens staring into an economic abyss when financial markets reopen on Monday unless it wins fresh aid.

EU officials forecast a deal would be reached by the end of the weekend to keep Greece afloat, but two sources said there was consensus among the other 18 ministers that the leftist government in Athens must take further steps to convince them it would honor any new debts.

Tsipras won parliamentary backing early on Saturday for a tough reform package that largely mirrored measures previously demanded by its international creditors but rejected by Greek voters at his behest in a referendum last Sunday.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, finance minister of its biggest creditor Germany and a stickler for the EU's fiscal rules, said negotiations would be "exceptionally difficult".

Emerging optimism about Greece had been "destroyed in an incredible way in the last few months" since Tsipras won power, Schaeuble said.

A German newspaper reported that his ministry was suggesting that Greece either improve its proposals quickly and transfer state assets worth 50 billion euros into a fund to pay down debt, or take a five-year "time-out" from the euro zone.

Read more: Euro zone ministers demand more from Greece for loan talks | Reuters

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