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Athens asks for funds as debt talks turn positive

The Greek government has asked for remaining bailout funds to be unlocked as soon as possible. The country needs the extra cash to avoid bankruptcy.

Noting the achievements made during marathon weekend negotiations, the Greek government called for a bit of reprieve on Monday, saying "one can't efficiently implement reforms in a state of financial asphyxiation."

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis also warned that if there was no swift release of bailout funds, there would be no money to make the next debt repayment of 750 million euros to the International Monetary Fund, which is due May 12.

"The progress made should act as a passport for easing the financing of the Greek economy," said Sakellaridis. In order to avoid bankruptcy, Sakellaridis argued that the bailout money should be "made available not at the end of May, but as soon as possible."

The spokesman indicated that Greece did not want a partial deal to unlock some of the funds, but was more interested in reaching a final deal by the end of May or June. Another creditor, the European Central Bank, has barred Athens from raising short-term cash on the markets, cutting off an important lifeline which kept the country afloat during the previous administration and hastening the need for compromise.

Greeks reshuffle team

Negotiations over Greece's debt

have been fraught and slow in moving forward since governing left-wing party Syriza took power with a broad coalition in January. The Tsipras administration has sought to have some of the country's debt written off and have painful austerity measures forced upon Athens by its creditors rolled back.

"They are asking us not to touch any of those things that during the last five years destroyed the lives of Greek citizens. Is that possible?" said Greek Labor Minister Panos Skourletis in a television interview.

Since the government reshuffled its negotiating team last week, somewhat sidelining

controversial Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis

following a tense meeting with his European counterparts in Riga on April 24, some progress was made. Compromises had already been reached in areas such as tax reform, privatization and bureaucratic changes, and both sides appeared to be more positive about moving forward with the debt talks.

es/jil (AP, AFP)

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