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Greek Aid Payments Approved by Euro Finance Ministers

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel told the German Parliament in Berlin today, “I hope that the euro group will be able to decide to disburse a new tranche for Greece today.” Photographer: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Euro-area finance ministers approved 49.1 billion-euro ($64 billion) of rescue payments to Greece to keep the recession-wracked country solvent.

Finance chiefs at a meeting in Brussels today rubber stamped the next tranches of aid after wrapping up a 14-hour negotiation on banking union at 4:30 a.m. Of the funds, 34.3 billion euros will be released within the next few days with the remaining money doled out in the first quarter.

“The disbursement agreed to today will allow for liquidity to flow back into the Greek economy,” European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said at a press conference.

The Greek government this week said it plans to pay 11.29 billion euros to buy back 31.9 billion euros of bonds to reduce its debt burden and retain the support of the EU and the International Monetary Fund. The buyback underscores a move away from the austerity-first measures European leaders have embraced since the financial crisis began in 2009.

To repurchase all the debt tendered, Greece needed approval to spend more than the 10 billion-euro loan from Europe’s bailout fund earmarked for the buyback.

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