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Greece closes in on bailout, lenders seek more oversight

Friday, February 17, 2012
(Reuters) - Greece appears to be closing in on a new international rescue package despite unresolved doubts among euro zone partners about how fast it will manage to bring its debt down.

Athens set out extra austerity measures on Thursday it hopes will clinch a 130 billion euro ($170 billion) bailout, which will save it from bankruptcy next month, at a meeting of finance ministers from the 17-nation euro zone on Monday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos are optimistic that an agreement can be reached on Greece at Monday's Eurogroup meeting, Monti's office said, after the three leaders held a conference call on Friday.

But negotiations with lenders in the European Union and International Monetary Fund are again going down to the wire, straining ties between Greece and northern members of the currency bloc.

"The skepticism is especially strong among the AAA states over whether Greece will be able to make it," Germany's Der Spiegel magazine quoted Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter as saying of countries with top-notch credit ratings such as Germany, Finland and the Netherlands.

"The risk of a Greek insolvency is not off the table."

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