Greece is on the verge of securing a bailout agreement with its EU creditors, according to the struggling nation's Prime Minister.
During an interview on Greece's Star TV last night, Alexis Tsipras said the final and most important stage of talks had been reached, and that an interim deal is likely to be achieved by 9 May.
Greece faces bankruptcy unless it manages to unlock the latest €7.2bn (£5.15bn) tranche of bailout funds, which it needs to pay back its debts to the EU and IMF.
"I believe we are close. I believe that if no-one wants to undermine or torpedo [the talks] we are close to an accepted package," Tsipras said.
Talks took place in the Latvian capital Riga at the weekend, with the aim of reaching a deal either this week or next week at the latest.
But finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who was central to the talks, faced criticism from those around the negotiation table, and on Sunday Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is currently president of the talks, sidelined Varoufakis by contacting the Prime Minister directly.
Tsipras acknowledged there was a “negative atmosphere” at the talks, but said this was to be expected under the circumstances and defended Varoufakis. He said the finance minister was an important asset to Greece, and that the other Europeans were annoyed by him because he spoke their languages better than they did.
Nonetheless, the negotiations will now be led by Euclid Tsakalotos, another economist in Greece's government.