Greece to present new bailout plans
The Greek government is to present creditors with new proposals over the weekend in an attempt to breathe life into stalled bailout discussions that have stoked fears of the country's bankruptcy.
Confirmation that talks would proceed over the weekend came after the close of play in European markets.
Fears that the two sides were as far apart as ever on such issues as pensions and the budget saw the main stock index in Athens close 5.9% lower and the Stoxx 50 index of leading European shares end down 1%.
A Greek government official indicated a deal with creditors may be nearer than thought after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras conferred with senior ministers.
"The Greek side is ready to table counter-proposals to bridge the remaining differences," a government official said.
He said Greece believes an agreement is "closer than ever" and that Greek representatives will meet those representing the creditors in Brussels tomorrow.
Pressure on Greece to secure a deal is mounting. Greece's 240 billion-euro (£174bn) bailout expires on June 30, at which point the country will lose access to the rescue loans it desperately needs to repay debts and avoid a default that could force it out of the euro.
The most dramatic sign of an impasse in the discussions came yesterday when the International Monetary Fund sent its negotiators home from bailout talks with Greek officials in Brussels, citing a lack of progress.
The weekend talks come ahead of a meeting late next week of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers - a meeting that European Union president Donald Tusk has said "is really crucial and should be decisive".
Despite the lack of visible progress, German chancellor Angela Merkel has shown a willingness to continue the talks and her views matter perhaps more than most as Germany is Greece's single biggest creditor.
"Where there's a will, there's a way, but the will must come from everybody," she said in a speech in Berlin. Germany stressed that a solution would have to include the IMF.
Greece's creditors - its fellow eurozone states, the European Central Bank and the IMF - want the country to commit to new economic reforms before they disburse the last 7.2 billion euros (£5.2bn) left in Greece's bailout fund.
The key points of contention appear to be cuts to Greek pensions, changes in the labour market and the size of Greece's government budget. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the eurozone's top official, said the onus was on the Greek government to come up with "sound" proposals.
Greece's final instalment has been pending since last year and with no access to the international borrowing market, Greece has been struggling to pay both its international debts, and to continue paying salaries and pensions.
Without outside help, Greece is unlikely to be able to repay a roughly 1.6 billion-euro (£1.2bn) IMF debt instalment due on June 30 and larger debts due to the European Central Bank in July and August.