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Greece resumes talks with bank creditors

GREECE has resumed talks with its private creditors in the hope of sealing a debt relief deal needed to avoid a disastrous default.

The heads of the Institute of International Finance, a global banking association, returned after negotiations stalled last week.

"Talks with private creditors are without a doubt at a very sensitive stage," Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said.

"We want this (deal) to happen in a way that is safe for Greece - with Greece in the eurozone - and safe for the real economy and the financial system," he said.

The private sector involvement, or PSI, deal is meant to write off €100bn, or half of the debt Greece owes private bondholders, who would get new bonds with extended repayment periods.

Talks have been held up by a disagreement on interest rates for the new bonds and other "variables," a senior government official said.

He said the government was still considering whether to impose so-called collective action clauses on its bonds. The clauses could force private debt holders resisting a settlement to fall in line with the majority if an agreement is reached.

Greece needs to clinch the agreement quickly to qualify for more bailout loans before it faces a bond repayment on March 20. The bond swap is a key part a new €130bn bailout package in loans and bank support from international rescue creditors. Without the bond swap deal, Greece will be cut off from its rescue loans.

Greece needs to write off some of its borrowings if it is to have a fighting chance of emerging from its debt hole.

It has so far relied on austerity measures, which were a condition for it to receive emergency loans from other its fellow eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund. The Greek government has cut pensions and salaries, raised taxes and sold state property.