Greece says still seeking more time to pay off debt

Greece is still hoping the European Central Bank will agree to give it more time to repay debt and allow euro zone rescue funds to be used to recapitalize its banks, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Thursday.

He said Greece still wanted the ECB to make concessions on the repayment of bonds it bought earlier in the crisis and on the debt interest as part of a deal on its next tranche of financial aid.

Asked a conference in Paris what he would ask of ECB President Mario Draghi today, he replied: "What I would ask is what I already asked, that is to see whether he could for instance allow us to have an accommodating policy versus the payment of our debt and interest on bonds.

"If they could roll them over for instance that would be positive, that would make the funding gap much smaller," he said.

Samaras also said Greece wished for direct recapitalization of its banks by the euro zone's ESM rescue fund, as Spain has been offered.

Athens has been haggling for weeks with its 'troika' of lenders -- the European Commission, ECB and International Monetary Fund (IMF) -- over a further two-year austerity package worth nearly 12 billion euros ($15 billion) to secure its next aid tranche.

The Greek government has asked for more time to implement painful reforms but Germany and other euro zone creditor nations have responded coolly to the request.

Draghi on Thursday shot down suggestions that the ECB would help Greece by extending the maturities of the Greek debt it holds, saying that would be financing governments, which its rules forbid it from doing.

The euro zone is awaiting the troika's report on the state of Greece's economy before making further decisions. (Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur; Writing by Vicky Buffery; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)