German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Saturday's meeting of eurozone finance ministers would be "decisive" in reaching a Greece bailout deal. The deadline now lies just four days away.
Following the first day of the ongoing EU summit in Brussels, Merkel said early on Friday that eurozone finance ministers would "have to keep working" in the coming days "because time is pressing."
"All the leaders supported the idea that everything must be done to find a solution on Saturday."
Merkel's comments came in light of yet another failed round of eurozone talks on Thursday. The 19-country currency union failed once again to settle a bailout agreement, which Greece hopes would see the release of the remaining 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion) in the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) bailout funds.
Greece needs loans to pay 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) to the IMF by June 30. Failing to do so would result in a default on Greece's loan, which analysts fear could force the country to exit the eurozone and possibly even the EU.
Writing on Twitter in the early hours of Friday morning, EU President Donald Tusk ruled out the possibility of a special summit of eurozone leaders, like the one he called on Monday.
French President Francois Hollande also said on Friday that a deal between Greece and its eurozone creditors was needed before the cash-strapped country has to pay back the huge IMF debt bill.
"I consider that the meeting on Saturday is crucial because time is up on June 30, when the Greeks must meet their payment obligations, there are national parliaments that have to meet," Hollande said.
"We have to do everything we can and France will set itself to work so that we can have a universal and durable deal," he added.
Despite the abrupt end to bailout negotiations on Thursday, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis played down his country's latest setback and said Athens was standing by its own proposals.
Greece's latest offer included a proposed fiscal adjustment of around 8 billion euros by the end of 2016. Athens plans to reduce its primary budget deficit by increasing taxes on consumers, businesses and the wealthy, as well as by passing pension reforms, which would focus on phasing out early retirement.
ksb/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)