Talks in Greece on austerity measures set to continue
GREEK political leaders taking part in the coalition government said after a two-hour meeting yesterday that they would continue talks on austerity measures needed to put the country's bailout programme back on track.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's allies are pushing for two more years to implement the unpopular cuts before they sign off on them, sources close to the parties said, potentially delaying a deal on the savings demanded by lenders.
"There is agreement on the strategic plan. Discussions will continue, there will be another meeting in the next few days," Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis told reporters after the meeting.
The coalition has agreed on the bulk of the nearly €12bn in cuts that Greece must produce to satisfy inspectors from the European Union and the IMF lenders bailing out the nation.
But hours before the three leaders resumed talks to nail down the final €1.5bn in cuts, the socialists and moderate leftists backing Samaras banded together to demand the cuts be spread out over four years instead of two, party sources said. Greece's bailout insists on the cuts in 2013 and 2014.
Samaras wants to restore Greece's rapidly sinking credibility with lenders as a first step before seeking any concessions.