Crunch talks

Julian Harris
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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was summoned to Brussels by Jean-Claude Juncker for debt negotiations, dinner and wine
Greek PM dines late into the night with euro chiefs as his country’s default looms...yet the group emerges from the meal without a deal on the table

THE PRIME Minister of Greece was locked in showdown talks with top Eurozone officials until the early hours of this morning, with the beleaguered state facing a possible default on its debts as early as tomorrow.

Hours of negotiations spilled into an extensive dinner in Brussels, yet the key protagonists failed yet again to strike a deal and said they require more time to reach an agreement.

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras struck an optimistic tone, insisting that Greece will meet the €300m (£220.5m) payment due to be transferred to the IMF tomorrow. Tsipras added that an agreement will arrive in the coming days.

Tsipras had been joined by Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is the president of the Eurogroup – a collection of all the single currency’s finance ministers – and EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker.

Dijsselbloem said it was “a good meeting”, yet also admitted that more days of talks are needed.

Any agreement would require an emergency summit of the Eurogroup. Typically a Euro Working Group meeting – involving deputy finance ministers – is held prior to the Eurogroup, yet a lack of progress on policy concessions has scuppered this week’s attempts to get the bloc’s politicians around a table.

Earlier in the day Greek officials were upbeat over Juncker’s intervention and the prospect of a deal.

“It’s very positive,” one Greek official told City A.M.

“I was afraid yesterday that the institutions would table their proposal and then force Greece to come to a Euro Working Group. Instead of that, Juncker not only refrained from tabling the counter proposal officially, but he invited Tsipras to tell him about it so that he could respond,” they said.

“He obviously knows already that Tsipras under no circumstances will be able to accept the institution’s counter proposal. If anybody could save the day that would be Juncker, maybe with the muted backing of Merkel.”

ECB chief Mario Draghi yesterday said that Greece was right to pursue less austerity given that its economic outlook had worsened recently.

“Yes, definitely the current downgraded perspective should be taken into account when determining what the primary surplus figures should be,” he said.