ATHENS – Greece will conclude austerity talks with its lenders to continue receiving the bailout funds it needs, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Monday, but officials said the talks would most likely not be finished by Thursday's EU summit.
"Greece will soon get the next tranche. Its economy needs liquidity like a desert needs rain," Samaras told a conference in Athens.
But Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told reporters negotiators would most likely miss a target to complete the talks by Thursday, when a European Union summit takes place.
A senior finance ministry official later confirmed the two sides would not finish negotiations by Thursday, and would resume talks after the summit.
"We won't have a deal on all issues by the summit. There are too many issues pending," the official told reporters after late-night talks between Stournaras and Greece's lenders.
"We are working very hard to fill in the gaps aiming to get the tranche by mid November," he said.
Athens has not received any bailout money since the end of June, with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund withholding about 36 billion euros of funds until Greece keeps its pledge to push through almost 12 billion euros of new spending cuts for 2013 and 2014.
Greek ministers and officials from the EU, IMF and European Central Bank have, over the past days, been trying to hammer out differences over spending cuts and a list of 89 reforms that Athens needs to adopt before aid disbursements can resume.
The cuts and the reforms are required under the terms of a 130-billion-euro bailout Athens agreed in March with the "troika" of its international lenders.
Greece will successfully conclude the talks because its economy cannot recover without the funds, Samaras said.
Talks with the troika, however, are moving slower than expected.
"We're trying but I don't think we'll make it (by Thursday)," Stournaras said after meeting Samaras, who had predicted on Saturday that they would have wrapped up talks by October 18.
(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Writing by Harry Papachristou; Editing by Jon Hemming)