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Greece

Eurogroup ministers split on next step for Greece

Eurozone finance ministers have not reached an agreement on the next tranche of bailout funds for Greece. The group is also split on whether or not to give the debt-ridden country an extended deadline for budget cuts.

Greece's international lenders - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - ended their meeting in Brussels on Monday without reaching a final agreement on the next batch of bailout aid for Greece.

The group also discussed a possible deadline extension of two years, from 2014 to 2016, for the country to reform its economy. The proposal was met with mixed reviews.

New delays for Greece

"The revised fiscal targets, as requested by the Greek government and supported by the troika, would be an appropriate adjustment for the further path of fiscal consolidation in view of recent economic developments," the Eurogroup said on Monday in Brussels.

The panel's president, Jean-Claude Juncker, said the change would likewise apply to the Greek debt load, extending it until 2022 - instead of 2020 - to reach a debt of 120 percent of gross domestic product.

In a joint press conference with Juncker, IMF chief Christine Lagarde shared a very different opinion, "In our view, the appropriate timetable is 120 percent by 2020."

"We clearly have different views," she added.

Fresh data released last week by the EU had shown that the Greek debt is on pace to reach almost 190 per cent of GDP by 2014.

Decisions yet to be made

Eurozone ministers will meet again on November 20, when Juncker said he expects "a decision in due form" on Greece's next bailout tranche of 31.5 billion euros ($40 billion).

The Eurogroup's decisions came hours after the Greek Parliament approved a 2013 budget that introduced additional spending cuts and tax hikes for the next two years.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has warned that without the new tranche the country will run out of money within days.

hc/jm (Reuters, dpa)

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