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Greece blames disagreement between EU, IMF for stalled talks

The Greek government has said that differences between the EU and the IMF are to blame for the delay in debt negotiations. Both sides, however, have appeared confident that a final deal is within reach.

As Greece races towards the deadline for their next debt repayment, Athens blamed differences between the IMF and the EU on Tuesday for blocking a deal.

"Serious divergences and contradictions between the creditors, the European Union and International Monetary are hindering negotiations," the Greek government said in a statement, adding that "this inability of the institutions to reach an agreement" was threatening Greece's liquidity.

Athens must pay the IMF 750 million euros by May 12, and was counting on its creditors unlocking the next round of bailout funds in order to make the payment and avoid bankruptcy. However, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said earlier Tuesday that he strongly doubted the money would be delivered in time.

Despite this, Varoufakis struck a positive note coming out of talks with EU Economic Affairs Minister Pierre Moscovici, saying "we are certainly going to have a fruitful discussion that will confirm the great progress achieved," and that he had all confidence in the negotiations going forward.

Varoufakis visited Brussels and Paris on Tuesday as Greek officials toured European capitals in an effort to steer the drawn-out debt discussions towards a final agreement. The outspoken finance minister, who has denied speculation that he is being sidelined in the talks, will visit Rome and Madrid later in the week.

No reparations, says Schäuble

His German counterpart, Wolfgang Schäuble, also announced on Tuesday that he was "somewhat skeptical" a deal could be reached by next week. He also downplayed recent remarks by President Joachim Gauck that seemed to indicated support for Greek claims that the nation is entitled to reparations worth 278 billion euros ($300 billion).

While acknowledging Germany "took historical responsibility very seriously," he reminded Athens that the matter of reparations was settled between the former East and West Germany with the Allies in 1990, though Greece was not a signatory to that treaty.

Schäuble also clarified that when President Gauck spoke of "possibilities there might be for reparations" to countries that suffered under the Nazi regime, he was "urging us not to forget," according to the finance minister.

Greece was occupied by Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and their ally Bulgaria from around April 1941 until October 1944. The occupation was financially disastrous for Greece. For example, the nation was forced to loan their invaders the equivalent of 10 billion euros in today's currency.

es/jil (AFP, Reuters)

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