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Talks between Greece and its eurozone partners on how to manage Greek debt have broken down after Athens rejected a eurozone demand to extend its bailout. No date for further talks has been set.
Monday's meeting in Brussels ended in apparent discord after hitting a snag early on, when Greece rejected a demand from the so-called eurogroup of finance ministers to agree to a six-month technical extension to its current bailout program.
Greece described the demand as "irrational and unacceptable."
"Everyone's disappointed," Austrian Finance Minister Hans Jörg Schelling said after the meeting.
EU officials said there had been no date set for new talks, with European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis saying that a new meeting would take place only if Greek authorities requested an extension of the bailout.
Greece's Syriza-led government under Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, which took power three weeks ago pledging to rid the country of onerous austerity measures imposed by foreign creditors, has rejected any extension of the program. Instead, it has proposed a short-term "bridge financing" scheme to enable it to enact reforms after the current bailout deal ends on February 28.
If no deal is reached by that time, Greece's banks could be cut off from affordable funding from the European Central Bank. That could potentially cause a collapse of the banking system if depositors began withdrawing their money as a result, which in its turn could force the government to leave the eurozone so it can rescue its banks by printing its own money.
Athens blames the austerity measures it has had to enact - in return for the 240 billion euros ($273 billion) it has been allocated in bailout money - for causing rampant unemployment and poverty in the country.
tj/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)