Greece's government aims to reach an agreement with its lenders on a cash-for-reforms deal by Sunday, its spokesman said on Thursday, brushing off comments from euro zone officials suggesting a deal was far from imminent.
Defending a Greek official's comments on Wednesday that an agreement was being drafted -- which were dismissed by euro zone officials -- Gabriel Sakellaridis said it was time to put agreements between the two sides on paper while resolving remaining differences.
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"The Greek team is in Brussels with the aim of concluding the deal within the coming days," he told a news conference.
"We are coming to these negotiations with the aim to have a deal with the partners by Sunday."
He suggested comments by officials on the other side of the negotiating table casting doubt on Greek optimism were "at times not neutral" but sought to exert pressure on Athens.
"Certainly, statements that do not share the optimism of the Greek government fall into the broader framework of negotiations and are possibly pressure on the Greek side to make more concessions," he said.
Greece and its EU/IMF lenders have been locked in tortuous negotiations on a reforms agreement for four months marked by contradictory statements on how much progress has been achieved. Without a deal, Athens risks default or bankruptcy in weeks.
The leftist-led government said on Wednesday it was starting to draft an agreement with its euro zone partners and the International Monetary Fund that would pave the way for aid, but European officials dismissed this as wishful thinking.
Asked whether the risk of contagion from a potential exit from the euro have diminished and consequences of a failure to reach a deal, Sakellaridis said the impact of a so-called "Grexit" could not be contained to just an economic level.
"We all understand that such a possibility would have wider consequences, not limited to the economy but also on the essence of the European Union itself, with political, geopolitical ramifications," he said.
Playing down reports of a rift within the government, he said Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis continued to enjoy the support of the government and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Asked whether Athens plans to lump looming loan repayments to the IMF totaling 1.5 billion euros and starting on June 5 into one, Sakellaridis said: "No such proposal has been made to the Greek government nor has the Greek government proposed this, it is not in its plans to make such a move," he said. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Writing by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Deepa Babington and Toby Chopra)