Tsipras Takes to Night Shift as Greece Talks Resume in Brussels

Alexis Tsipras
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras after a meeting with the heads of the three creditor institutions in Brussels on Wednesday. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resumed talks with Greece’s creditors late on Wednesday as each side pushes for a breakthrough agreement on the terms of bailout aid.

With fellow European leaders due to arrive for a two-day summit on Thursday, Tsipras met with the heads of the creditor institutions in Brussels for the second time after an earlier session lasting some five hours failed to bridge differences. Sticking points include pensions, sales taxes and debt relief.

“We are determined to continue work during the night if necessary,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs meetings of his euro-area counterparts.

Greek stocks and bonds fell on Wednesday amid continued disagreement over the conditions attached to a resumption of aid for Europe’s most indebted nation. A meeting earlier in Brussels of finance chiefs from the 19 euro nations broke up to “take stock of the situation,” Dijsselbloem said.

Tsipras is now in talks with International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. The first round was described as very tough by the Greek side and difficult by creditors.

‘Concrete Proposal’

Finance ministers will resume at 1 p.m. Thursday, by which time “we hope to have a concrete proposal,” Alexander Stubb of Finland told reporters. “It’s important to keep the process going,” he said. “It’s going to the wire.”

With the European portion of Greece’s 240 billion-euro ($269 billion) bailout due to expire on June 30 -- the same day a 1.5 billion-euro payment to the IMF falls due -- finance chiefs said that more time was needed to hatch a viable accord. Wolfgang Schaeuble of Germany, the biggest contributor to Greek aid, said the groundwork was still “not sufficiently far advanced” to get an accord.

“I don’t like all these deadlines because what we need to do here according to my opinion is first of all reach a good agreement for the Greek economy,” said Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt. “We’ll see how far we get today. If we can’t get that today, we’ll see where we get tomorrow.”

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