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Merkel pushes for Greek reforms, insists on keeping Greece in eurozone

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras have met on the sidelines of an EU meeting on migration. Athens has asked Germany to speed up negotiations for country's bailout deal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met in Brussels in a "positive and constructive" atmosphere. Tsipras urged Merkel to speed up the process towards an interim deal by the end of April, news agencies reported.

The pair met on the sidelines of a

European Union summit on migration

. EU officials said the German chancellor was planning to assure Athens about keeping it in the single currency area and help it avoid a default.

However, Greece would have to make detailed commitments on the reforms it was planning to undertake in order to receive any additional money from the EU.

Detailed reform plans

"At the highest level, the Germans want to keep Greece in the euro area and find a solution, but time is running short and there may have to be more drama before Tsipras can put his foot down and reach an agreement," a senior EU official told Reuters news agency.

European leaders are worried about . European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told Germany's ARD television that "progress was not good."

There were doubts about the situation in Athens were growing and there would be no economic growth this year if financial instability returned, Dombrovskis added.

ECB approves emergency funds for Greek banks

Greece has to agree with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) on a comprehensive set of reforms that would qualify it for the remaining 7.2-billion-euro installment from its 240-billion-euro bailout.

Eurozone officials said Athens could probably meet its payments for June, but the country faced bond redemptions to the ECB in July and August, which it could not meet without receiving more money.

Peter Praet, the ECB's chief economist said the bank was prepared to authorize emergency funds for Greek banks because they were all solvent until now. EU officials were waiting for Greece to implement key reforms such as cutting pensions and privatizing public companies, which Tsipras' party Syriza halted after it came to power.

mg/sms (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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