EC Official Denies Greek Government’s Statement That a Deal Is CloseNikos Chrysoloras, Eleni Chrepa and Rebecca Christie
Greece remained far apart from its international creditors on a deal to unlock needed bailout aid, with the two sides unable to even agree on the amount of progress made thus far.
After a Greek official said the country will start drafting an accord at a meeting taking place Wednesday, and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told reporters that a solution is close -- the European Commission responded to say a deal is not imminent and that a lot of work remains to be done.
“We are still not there,” Valdis Dombrovskis, the commissioner in charge of euro matters, told reporters in Brussels following the Greek announcement. “We are working toward an agreement as quickly as possible. We are already basically a month behind the schedule.”
Greek officials, who had to take a bus to Brussels from Germany after their plane was diverted to Dusseldorf, are set to meet late Wednesday with the European Commission and International Monetary Fund. Time is running out for Greece to receive funding ahead of almost 1.6 billion euros ($1.74 billion) in IMF payments scheduled for next month, with the first of the transfers due June 5.
The Greek official, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private, acknowledged that there are still disagreements with creditors and said that the IMF was a main obstacle to an agreement. Angela Gaviria, an IMF spokeswoman in Washington, declined to comment.
The euro gained 0.2 percent to $1.0889 as of 4:58 p.m. London time. Greek two-year notes rose, pushing the yield 114 basis points lower to 23.77 percent. Greek shares also climbed, with the benchmark Athens Stock Exchange gaining 3.6 percent at the close of trading.
“Everyone was scared Greece was close to leaving the euro zone,” said John Plassard, vice president at Mirabaud Securities LLP in Geneva. “Just some hope is pushing the market up. They seem to be trying to do anything possible to keep Greece in the euro zone.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, who spoke Wednesday with Tsipras for the second time in less than a week, said he’ll push for movement in the standoff at a Group of Seven gathering of finance ministers and central bank governors in Germany.
“It’s time for everyone to park the rhetoric on the side and look for that sensible place where accommodation can be found,” Lew said at an event in London. “No doubt the worst and deepest consequence would be to Greece. But it’s profoundly in the interest of the European and global economy for the accident to be avoided.”
As the talks drag on, the European Central Bank Wednesday left the level of emergency cash available to Greek banks unchanged from a week ago at 80.2 billion euros, said two people familiar with the matter. Greek lenders still have a liquidity buffer of about 3 billion euros, one of the people said.
The Bank of Greece didn’t ask for added funding because deposit outflows have stabilized, a Greek government official said. ECB and Bank of Greece spokesmen declined to comment. The lenders are reliant on the emergency assistance to stay afloat because they’ve lost access to capital markets and the ECB’s regular financing operations.
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