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Greece and its creditors eye a quick deal after a long delay

With talks set to resume, both Greece and its lenders have expressed hope that a reform review is nearing its end. The Greek government is weighing a proposal that aims to overcome a key sticking point.

After weekend discussions with its creditors in Washington, the Greek government has voiced optimism that an agreement is in reach to conclude the latest round of reform reviews. Coming months later than expected, a deal would pave the way for more bailout money to be released to the debt-ridden country.

Talks between Greece and its international lenders will resume in Athens on Tuesday, ahead of a regular meeting of eurozone finance ministers on April 22.

Greece needs to shave another 5.4 billion euro ($6.1 billion) in spending in order to comply with the creditors' terms and conditions to unlock more of their funds. A government spokesperson said its due to submit bills to parliament concerning fiercely contested pension and tax reforms in the coming days.

Meanwhile the European Commission has not set a date for the conclusion of the first review of Greek reforms, but said the aim was to wrap up the mission “as soon as possible.”

'Important differences'

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Greece under bailout condition review

A government source told the Agence France-Press news agency that it is currently in the process of examining a proposal by its creditors that would trade debt relief for additional spending cuts if Greece fails to meet its 2018 fiscal targets.

The proposal was put forth to overcome a disagreement between the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, who have both been involve in administering Greece's bailout deals since 2010.

The latest Greek bailout sets a primary surplus target of 3.5 percent of GDP for 2018 and beyond, which the European Commission says "must be respected." The IMF, however, considers it unrealistic to expect Greece to sustain such a surplus.

Earlier this week IMF officials stated that Greece's plans might not be enough to meet the stated goals. To date, the IMF has refused to help fund the latest bailout plan, demanding more credible reforms from Greece and an agreement from the EU to help ease Greece's public debt burden.

The talks in Washington have "proved there is convergence but also important differences," the government source said.

hch/jw (Reuters/AFP)

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