Greece Sees Bailout Deal with Lenders in Two Weeks

Reuters

Greece expects to conclude a multi-billion-euro deal with international lenders within two weeks, with the drafting of an accord set to start on Wednesday.

A bailout worth up to 86 billion euros ($94.5 billion), needs to be settled by Aug. 20 if Greece is to pay off debt of 3.5 billion euros to the European Central Bank that matures on that day.

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It will be the indebted nation's third bailout since 2010, designed to stave off bankruptcy and keep the country from toppling out of the euro zone.

"The first phase of negotiations ends today and the second phase starts, which really contains the details of drafting (the deal)," Olga Gerovasili, the government spokeswoman, said on Tuesday, speaking of discussions launched with lenders in the last week of July.

The drafting of the accord would start on Wednesday, Gerovasili told Skai TV station.

European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has said that, while ambitious, a deal is possible in August. Past negotiations between Greece and its lenders have proved tortuous.

"If the terms of the (EU) summit are met, I think that we will have a deal by the 18th of this month," Gerovasili said.

Greece and its EU partners clinched a last-minute deal in July on a reform program including privatizations and pension reform and scrapping tax breaks for groups such as farmers.

Lenders want, for example, an increase in the retirement age to 67 from the nominal 62 that falls significantly depending on numbers of years worked and family status.

On Monday, Greece and lenders agreed that any pension reforms would not affect individuals who retired before the end of June 2015. Talks on Tuesday were shifting onto issues related to the recapitalization of banks and privatization matters.

"We are determined to pursue a deal, and be tough in negotiations until the last minute," the Greek official said.

Asked about the timing of the adjustment which is a thorny topic among farmers, Gerovasili said: "One of the positives of this agreement is that it has a three-year horizon of steady financing. This gives us some room to gradually phase them in ...because today we are in a difficult financial situation and there must be some time for a small recovery."

Greece's finance and economic ministers were due to meet international lenders later on Tuesday to discuss privatizations and bank recapitalization.

(Reporting By Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt and John Stonestreet)