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Friday 22 September 2017

Greek PM optimistic after EU talks

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, stands with Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. (AP)
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, stands with Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. (AP)

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras is optimistic that his country can find a way to ease its bailout loans after talks with the main European Union agency supervising its finances.

With all Europe waiting to see how Greece proposes to renegotiate its massive bailout loans, Mr Tsipras and his finance minister are on a whirlwind tour of the region to discuss possible solutions.

Mr Tsipras wants easier terms of repayment on the 240 billion euro in bailout loans and to relax the austerity budget measures the country has been required to make.

"I'm very optimistic after these discussions that we are in a good way," Mr Tsipras said, after meeting the presidents of the EU's three main institutions. "We don't have already an agreement but we are in a good direction to find a viable agreement."

Mr Tsipras said his anti-austerity government would respect the will of Greek voters as well as the EU's rules.

"We want to re-correct this framework, not to smash this framework," he said.

In a short trip to Brussels before heading to France, Mr Tsipras was welcomed at the European Commission, one of the three main institutions overseeing Greece's finances, by President Jean-Claude Juncker.

On the eve of their talks, Mr Juncker underlined that the EU would show flexibility in helping Athens deal with its debts but ruled out wholesale policy changes.

Meanwhile, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis met with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi in Frankfurt before holding talks with German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin.

Mr Varoufakis said he and Draghi had "a very fruitful discussion" about the rules and constraints of monetary union.

"I had the opportunity to present to him our government's utter and unwavering determination that it can't possibly be business as usual in Greece," he said.

Press Association

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