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Greek parliament to debate bailout negotiations on day of key IMF payment

On the day that Athens must make the first in a series of key debt repayments, the Greek parliament is to debate the course of its bailout negotiations. There is opposition to increasing taxes and lowering pensions.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called a parliamentary debate for Friday on the course of the bailout negotiations - the same day that Athens has to pay just over 300 million euros ($337 million) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It is the first payment of a total 1.6 billion euros due to the IMF this month.

The prime minister called an emergency meeting with his ministers on Thursday. The Syriza party government is in coalition with right-wing, Independent Greeks. They have a 12-seat majority in the 300-member parliament.

There is growing dissent within Tsipras' Syriza party

over the terms Greece is offering to creditors for a deal on reforms the country will make in exchange for a remaining 7.2 billion euros ($8.2 billion) to be released - to pay the imminent debt payments. To access the money, it needs creditors to agree to an economic program.

Syriza party secretary Tassos Koronakis described the latest proposals from creditors as "a neoliberal shock tactic." In comments to private television channel Star, he added: "A proposal that describes measures of extreme austerity ... shows no respect for the mandate of the Greek people."

Tsipras issued a statement on Thursday

after his Wednesday night meeting with the president of the European Commission (EC), Jean-Claude Juncker and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the Eurogroup. He said that discussions would continue and that from the EC, "the will is there to reach a realistic agreement very soon."

While Tsipras noted: "The more we discuss matters honestly, the closer we are to reaching a mutually acceptable solution," he also wrote: "Proposals that call for ending the Social Solidarity Benefit for low-income pensioners or for increasing VAT by 10 points on electricity cannot be a basis for discussion."

Christine Lagarde, the IMF's managing director, said Greece's creditors were showing "significant flexibility" and would do what was necessary to "soften the consequences" of necessary reforms.

jm/kms (Reuters, AP)

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