Greek PM renews call for lenders to tackle Greece's debt

Lenders are meeting on Thursday to discuss releasing as much as 8.5bn euros (£7.4bn) in funds to Greece.

Eurozone ministers have struck a deal to unlock the latest tranche of Greece's bailout cash. The fund has rallied 26% this year on prospects for economic improvements and more bailout money.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has welcomed a decision by the country's worldwide lenders to approve the disbursement of 8.5 billion euros in bailout loans and to detail medium-term debt relief measures following talks in Luxembourg. Macron wants to work with Germany to strengthen the 18-year-old common currency, which was almost wrecked by the sovereign debt crisis.

The left-led Greek government, which has lost a lot of support since signing up for the country's third bailout even after campaigning against austerity, hopes Thursday's deal will help it get to a position to tap the worldwide bond markets that lost faith in 2010 and forced Greece to rely on rescue money.

"We are far from finding a solution at the Eurogroup on Thursday, given that Germany has not made any step", a Greek government source told AFP. For Greece, that would limit the amount it has to pay out on debt servicing each year, money it can use for the benefit of the Greek economy and society.

The deal - though far short of the debt forgiveness prime minister Alexis Tsipras's leftist-led government had hoped for - was greeted with jubilation.

Just as important have been the talks on debt relief, which was promised as part of Greece's last bailout deal, struck in 2015.

However, the International Monetary Fund could join the programme with a financial support "in the range of $2bn" only after a full deal on additional measures of debt relief for Greece, she said.

Debt relief talk has been a hard sell in Germany, the biggest contributor to the Greek bailouts, which faces elections in September and does not want to anger its bailout-weary voters with discussions of relief for Athens.

Lagarde praised Thursday's loan agreement, stating that Athens would now be protected from future crisis moments because its financial needs in terms of debt service will be low.

But ministers said that while Greece would get more "clarity" on a long-desired agreement on cutting its mountain of debt, there could be no actual deal on that subject until later.

The IMF would join the Greek bailout, Lagarde told the news conference, offering Athens a standby arrangement of less than $2 billion, the length of which will be tailored to match the end of the euro zone bailout in mid-2018.

"I am pleased to announce that we have achieved an agreement on all elements", Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem announced after a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg.

She insists that without debt relief for Athens, continuing with bailouts will only repeat the past cycles, which saw Greece run up $355 billion in debt.

In Athens, some 1,500 pensioners gathered to protest against more than a dozen rounds of pension cuts since bailout-induced austerity was enforced seven years ago.

"We can't live on 300 euros!" they chanted, with some waving sticks.

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