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Greece contemplates concessions for creditors in debt talks

A Greek minister of state has expressed hope for a breakthrough in bailout talks with Europe and the IMF ahead of an emergency summit. He has said his country is examining several concessions for creditors.

Alekos Flambouraris, a Greek minister of state, told TV channel Mega that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' government was contemplating lowering tax thresholds for corporate profits and stepping up prohibition of early retirement schemes to offer new proposals and reach a deal with international creditors.

"I hope they will accept this, but they won't do it - that is my personal opinion," said Flambouraris, who is also Tsipras' adviser.

Flambouraris said the reworked measures could bring the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB) closer to an agreement on releasing 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion) in blocked bailout funds Athens desperately needs to pay its debts.

"We will try to supplement our proposal so that we get closer to a solution," Flambouraris was quoted as saying by Greek media. "Some work is being done to see where we can converge, so that we achieve a mutually beneficial solution."

Tsipras is also upbeat about the possibility of a deal

to avoid a default and a possible "Grexit" scenario, which would see Athens leave the eurozone and possibly even lose its membership in the European Union.

Meanwhile, local media have reported that Greeks have withdrawn around 3 billion euros from banks over the past week alone.

Time ticking away

The EU and IMF had said earlier that they wanted to see credible proposals from Greece's left-wing government about how it planned to bring down the country's massive debt.

Greece's previous government had already gone down this path, introducing unpopular austerity measures. However, Tsipras' Syriza swept to power in January after forcing an early general election, winning over voters with an anti-austerity platform.

There were no signs on Friday that the two sides were any closer to a deal, and there were more expressions of frustration with the Greeks from their EU partners.

"We are close to the point where the Greek government will have to choose between accepting what I believe is a good offer of continued support or to head towards default," said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Speaking in Berlin on Friday

, German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated that if negotiators from Greece's government failed to come up with a proposal that would satisfy its international creditors prior to

Monday's emergency summit in Brussels

, EU leaders would not be able to greenlight a deal.

shs/sms (Reuters, dpa, AFP, AP)

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