Latest rift in Greek bailout talks dashes hopes for deal in Malta

Source says Greek prime minister pulled back on the timing of agreed pension cuts

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras. Photograph: Alessandro di Meo/EPA

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras. Photograph: Alessandro di Meo/EPA

 

A new rift between Athens and the International Monetary Fund over pensions and labour reforms has dealt a blow to an initial accord, dashing hopes for a bailout review deal before a meeting of euro zone finance ministers this week.

Talks between Athens, the EU and the Washington-based IMF have dragged on for months due to differences over Greece’s fiscal progress, labour and energy market reforms.

Sources close to the talks said Greece and its creditors had reached an initial agreement on the main issues of the bailout review in Brussels last week, but they hit a last-minute snag.

Prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s leftist-led government, which has been sliding in opinion polls, pulled back on the timing of agreed pension cuts, one source said. This prompted the IMF to seek a renegotiation on labour reforms, another source said.

A third source said “there were objections [to the deal], which did not come directly from the institutions involved in the talks”, without elaborating.

EU-IMF mission chiefs were initially expected to return to Athens to sort out the details before a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Malta on Friday. – Reuters