Published: Tue, May 23, 2017
Markets | By Lucia Cruz

EU official says deal on Greek bailout 'doable'

"We could specify that in one or the other way but it cannot not be decided upon before the end of the program without a new mandate", he said.

Le Maire was due to attend the Brussels talks after a morning stop in Berlin where he met Schaeuble to discuss the future of the eurozone.

The 39-year-old also argued for debt relief in 2015 when he was economy minster under then president Francois Hollande - the only minister who did "everything possible" for this, according to former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

He said the finalization of an agreement on Greece would have to wait for a report on whether the country has implemented all the agreed reforms, the so-called compliance report, which euro zone officials said was positive.

Merkel's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble (CDU), however, has always been a proponent of Greek austerity, refusing to release more loans to Greece without the intervention of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which is not part of the third bailout.

Athens also hopes to be finally allowed access to the European Central Bank's asset purchase program, known as quantitative easing, or QE, to help its return to bond markets.

Macron told Tsipras he was in favour of "finding a deal soon to alleviate the weight of Greece's debt over time", a statement from the presidenct said.

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Le Maire says it's "important there be a solution that reassures the Greek people and of course reassures Greece's creditors".

Macron explained his thinking about Greece in an interview to the Mediapart website two days before his election.

Greece needs new credit to repay some 7.3 billion euros worth of maturing loans in July. In return for the money, the government promised to enact a series of austerity measures as well as economic reforms - its progress is continually monitored by institutions from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Analysts said the main reason why Greece has taken a step back is its stalled bailout negotiations.

While the austerity measures have seen Greece's public finances improve, the draconian spending cuts have seen poverty rates surge to more than 35 percent.

Schaeuble opposes debt relief, but at the same time refuses to unlock more loans to Greece without the partnership of the International Monetary Fund, which he sees as a guarantor of financial rigour. And the country's debt burden stands at around 175 percent, a level that the Greek government thinks is unsustainable in the long-term - hence its insistence on some debt relief, at least in the form of lower interest payments and longer repayment terms.

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