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Greece flags up potential sticking points for EU deal

Greece today said "important steps" had been taken at crunch bailout talks with the EU, but warned against unbridled optimism, saying there were issues likely to prove snag points on the path to a deal.



Athens: Greece today said "important steps" had been taken at crunch bailout talks with the EU, but warned against unbridled optimism, saying there were issues likely to prove snag points on the path to a deal.

"We have not yet got to an agreement but important steps have been made," a government source said.

The country's stock market closed up over 5.0 percent on the news that the deadlock between Athens and its creditors at a Brussels meeting of eurozone finance ministers earlier this week had been broken.

The new hard-left government agreed yesterday to start technical talks with eurozone partners in a bid to find common ground over their plans to ditch part of the country's unpopular EU-IMF bailout.

At a second eurogroup finance ministers meeting Monday, the Greek blueprints for a deal will be examined alongside a European Commission version "to distinguish common ground and differences," the source said.

"There seems to be a deal on the fight against corruption and tax evasion, as well as the reform of the civil service," but questions remain on "labour rights, the primary budget surplus and privatisations, which are non-negotiable," he said.

And "health reform, redundancy, social security" are likely to be points of disagreement on which the deal could snag, he added.
Government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said the government remained determined not to give ground on what it considers "red line" issues, and warned against "spreading enthusiasm before the deal is done."

"Greeks should understand that this is a critical and difficult negotiation, the pressure is enormous," he said.

The EU wants Greece to apply to extend its bailout to buy it time to work out a longer-term solution to reduce its mammoth debt, which currently stands at 175 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.

But PM Alexis Tsipras wants a six-month bridging programme which would liberate Greece from what it sees as onerous bailout obligations and give it the opportunity to come to a new agreement with the EU.

From Zee News

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