Greece is stepping up efforts to find allies in the U.S. and Russia as cash reserves run dry while an agreement on additional funding from the country’s euro partners still looks like weeks away.
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis met with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde in Washington and reiterated Greece will repay her institution about 450 million euros ($494 million) on April 9. He is scheduled to meet Nathan Sheets, U.S. Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, on Monday before Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras heads to Moscow a day later to discuss food exports.
Greece and euro-area authorities are negotiating a package of measures proposed by the government to repair the economy, a condition for the release of more bailout funds. Technical discussions with representatives of its creditors, known as the Brussels Group, resume on Monday.
“Talks will be more effective and there will be topics established in order to reach deals faster and to reach better quality deals,” Varoufakis told reporters after his meeting with Lagarde. “The Greek government always fulfills its obligations and will continue doing so.”
A meeting of euro-region finance ministers on April 24 must reach an initial accord on Greece, Varoufakis said in an interview with Naftemporiki newspaper. The ministers and central bankers are scheduled to hold informal discussions that day in the Latvian capital, Riga.
Greek officials sent more details on the budget and economic proposals last week, including combating tax evasion and streamlining public administration.
The country won’t default on payments to the IMF this week even as a lack of bailout disbursements has left government coffers nearly empty, according to another minister.
Alternate Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said in an interview on Mega TV on Saturday that there’s money for the payment of salaries, pensions and whatever else is needed. The government also has a short-term debt auction on April 8 to refinance 1.4 billion euros of six-month notes due April 14.
Prime Minister Tsipras meanwhile will visit Moscow, with Russia ready to discuss easing restrictions on Greek food products, according to Russian government officials. Russia isn’t considering financial assistance to Greece, they said.
Tsipras will meet President Vladimir Putin to discuss relations between the European Union and Russia, tourism, energy, investment and trade, the Greek premier’s office said.
Financial markets were shut across Europe on Monday for the Easter holiday. Yields on three-year Greek government bonds have more than doubled since Tsipras’s Syriza party was elected to power on Jan. 25, rising to 23.9 percent at the end of last week’s trading from 10 percent.