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Business

IMF allows Greece to bundle June debt payments

Athens has bought more time to strike a critical aid-for-reforms deal with its bailout lenders after the International Monetary Fund agreed that the cash-starved country can repay debts due in June in one lump sum.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Thursday that the government in Athens had asked the global lender to be allowed to pay back its debt maturing in June in a single payment to be made on June 30.

"The Greek authorities have informed the Fund today that they plan to bundle the country's four June payments into one, which is now due on June 30," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in a statement.

The Fund also noted that under a decision taken in the late-1970s, its member nations could ask to bundle multiple principal payments into one to address the administrative difficulty of making several payments in a short period.

Cash-starved Greece was facing a 300-million-euro ($338 million) debt repayment to the IMF on Friday and further repayments later in the month totalling about 1.3 billion euros.

Earlier on Thursday, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde still said she was "confident" that Greece would meet its Friday debt payment.

Athens buys time

The postponement will buy more time for Athens after inconclusive talks between Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday.

Negotiating for Greece's bailout lenders - the EU Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF - Juncker reportedly offered Tsipras some concessions on fiscal targets to help enhance growth. In return, Athens was asked to commit to selling off state assets and maintaining unpopular labor reforms.

However, the demands are seen crossing the ruling Syriza party's declared red lines and have already invited a backlash from senior party members, who described them as unacceptable.

"Juncker took on the dirty work and conveyed the most vulgar, most murderous, toughest plan when everyone hoped that the deal was closing," Alexis Mitropoulos, a deputy parliament speaker told Mega TV.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will brief parliament on the state of negotiations on Friday. An agreement on the plan would lead to the release of another 7.2 billion euros from Greece's 240-billion-euro bailout package, essential for Athens to remain solvent.

uhe/sri (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)

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