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Greece warns it has 'no money' to make IMF debt repayments

Greece says it cannot make debt repayments to the IMF due next month without more aid from its foreign lenders. Athens defaulting on its debt could mean a Greek exit from the single currency eurozone.

Greek Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis said Sunday Athens could not afford the next four installments it's supposed to pay to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from June 5.

"The four installments for the IMF in June are 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion). This money will not be given and is not there to be given," Voutsis told Greek channel Mega TV. "This is a known fact."

Greece's leftist Syriza government has been locked in talks with its creditors - the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF - for the past four months, seeking a deal that could release 7.2 billion euros in remaining aid.

In exchange for unlocking the funds, the lenders are demanding Athens accept tough reforms and implement further spending cuts. Voutsis said the government was determined to fight against the lenders' strategy of "asphyxiation."

"This policy of extreme austerity and unemployment in Greece must be hit," he said. "We will not escape from this fight."

Greece is already struggling to pay wages, pensions and meet its debt obligations. Failure to make the series of IMF payments in June could see cash-strapped Athens default on its debt, raising the possibility of its exit from the eurozone.

Deal not far off

Voutsis and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

Hoping for a deal: Voutsis (left) with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Sunday Greece had made "enormous strides" at reaching an agreement with its lenders to avert bankruptcy, but it was now up to the institutions to do their bit.

"We have met them three quarters of the way, they need to meet us one quarter of the way," he told Britain's BBC on Sunday.

Varoufakis added that his country had managed to pay public sector wages, pensions and payments to the IMF by extracting 14 percent of national output in the past few months.

"At some point we will not be able to do it and at some point we are going obviously to have to make this choice that no minister of finance should ever have to make," he said.

Greece has received about 240 billion euros in bailout funds from its international creditors since 2010.

nm/bw (Reuters, AFP)

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