Greek leaders fail to reach consensus: sources
Greek political leaders failed to reach consensus on how to exit the country's severe debt crisis at an emergency 5-hour meeting on Friday, party officials said.
EU policymakers have warned Athens it must have broad political backing for debt-cutting measures, pressing for the kind of consensus achieved in Portugal, if they are to provide extra cash to plug a funding gap next year.
"Consensus was blocked," an official from one of the parties that participated in the meeting told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Far right LAOS leader George Karatzaferis told reporters after the talks: "Unfortunately, some people put their chair above Greece." An official in his party said he meant there was no agreement.
Prime Minister George Papandreou called the meeting in an attempt to get his opponents on board after inconclusive one-on-one meetings earlier this week.
Opposition parties have rejected his latest austerity package on the grounds that the belt-tightening agreed in return for a 110 billion euro bailout is choking the life out of the economy.
Athens kick-started a stalled privatisation programme on Monday and promised tougher austerity measures and tax hikes to meet EU/IMF conditions for the release of the next tranche of the bailout loan, but failed to win opposition support.
Conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras, who voted against the bailout deal struck last year, has repeatedly said he will not consent to the government's policies which are killing the economy's ability to grow out of the debt mess.
Also participating in the meeting were the leaders of the communist KKE party, which often boycotts such events, the far-right LAOS party and the Coalition of the Left. No other official statements were made after the meeting.
IMF PLAYING HARD
Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the grouping of euro zone finance ministers, alarmed investors on Thursday by saying the International Monetary Fund may withhold its next slice of aid to Greece due next month and that the European Union would not be able to fill the gap.
The risk that the global lender may withhold its share of the money next month is intensifying the scramble for a solution with the European Central Bank firmly resisting ideas of a soft restructuring—extending Greek bond maturities.
In Athens, EU and IMF inspectors are examining new Greek measures before granting the next 12 billion euro tranche of the bailout. Without it, Greece will be unable to cover pressing funding needs of 13.4 billion euros and will go bust.
Greek government officials have said that Athens has enough cash to cover its needs until mid-July.