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Four months and still no bailout deal for Greece

The four-month wrangle to clinch a new deal between Greece and its international creditors remains unresolved. Greek optimism has been rejected as unsubstantiated by EU officials, the IMF and Germany.

Group of Seven finance ministers began a summit in Dresden on Thursday with Germany's Wolfgang Schäuble again adamant that negotiations with Greece had not moved "much further."

On Wednesday, leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had claimed that Athens was "close to an agreement." For months, Greece has railed against the practices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Central Bank (ECB) and EU.

A Greek government source quoted by the news agency AFP had said technical experts were close to starting the drafting of the long-awaited agreement in Brussels.

From June 5 Greece has to repay loans back to the IMF. A deal on Greek reforms would unlock 7.2 billion euros ($7.8 billion) in fresh bailout loan monies.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told German ARD public television early Thursday that the talks had not yet produced substantial results.

"Things have moved, but there is still a lot of work to do," Lagarde said, referring to pressure on Greece to overhaul Greek pensions and value-added tax.

Progress slow

On Wednesday, European Commission's Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said progress was slow.

"Of course there are a number of important areas to be discussed, in terms of fiscal targets, primary surplus targets, fiscal measures...issues related to pension reform...the labor market," he said.

Schäuble, who was hosting the three-day G7 meeting in Dresden, said on ARD television that "on the substance, we haven't got much further in the negotiations between the three institutions and the Greek government."

"I am always surprised when we are told by Athens that an agreement is imminent," Schäuble told ARD television.

'Noise, facts'

Austria's central bank head Ewald Nowotny, who also sits in the European Central Bank's (ECB) governing council, told CNBC television that it was important to "distinguish the noise from the facts."

Nowotny said a key condition was whether the ECB could currently accept Greek assets such as Greek bonds as collateral.

"The answer for the time being: No," he said.

In February, the ECB cancelled its acceptance of Greek bonds, shifting the burden on to Athen's central bank to finance its lenders.

ipj/jil (Reuters, AFP, ARD)

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