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Greece: ‘Major Breakthrough’ in Debt Deal

  • VOA News

European Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici (L) chats with Greece's Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos (C) and European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis during a Euro zone finance ministers meeting, May 24, 2016.

European Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici (L) chats with Greece's Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos (C) and European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis during a Euro zone finance ministers meeting, May 24, 2016.

Eurozone finance ministers say they have reached a "major breakthrough" in negotiating the latest debt relief deal for Greece after hours of discussion in Brussels Tuesday night.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had demanded a reduction in Greece's debt burden as a condition of further IMF bailout funds.

Greece will receive the first part of an $11.4 billion bailout in June, following EU approval of its recent reform efforts.

This is the latest bailout in a six-year saga of economic troubles which have led to Greece's current public debt of about 180 percent of gross domestic product.

"We welcome that it is now recognized by all stakeholders that Greek debt is unsustainable," IMF European Director Poul Thomsen said Tuesday.

The difficult political agreement was met with resistance, particularly by Eurozone powerhouse Germany which, having continuously called for more austerity, claims this bailout was not necessary.

But Greece urgently needs the first tranche of $8.4 billion to pay off loans to the European Central bank and the IMF by July. The nation is currently struggling to pay even the wages of its own government employees.

"This is an important moment in the long Greek program, an important moment for all of us, since last summer when we had a major crisis of confidence between us," Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem told a news conference.

The agreement between ministers of the 19 countries which use the euro follows the passing of a Greek bill over the weekend that includes tax hikes and budget-cutting reforms, as demanded by its creditors.

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