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June 18, 2011

No Agreement on Greece by Eurozone Ministers

Eurozone finance ministers are again telling Greece that the next vital loan installment is only payable when the Greek parliament passes economic reforms.

The ministers ended their meeting early Monday in Luxembourg with no final agreement on the next $17 billion payment of the $160 bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The ministers did say they would welcome what they call "informal voluntary" roll-overs by Greek bond holders, meaning that those who hold Greek debt would hold off demanding payment.

Meanwhile, finance ministers from the Group of Seven held emergency telephone talks late Sunday on ways to help Greece avoid even deeper problems.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is appealing to parliament to pass his package of additional spending cuts and tax hikes as demanded by the EU and IMF.

Mr. Papandreou told lawmakers Sunday Greece faces bankruptcy and debt default if it does not secure the next installment of the 2010 bailout.

Millions of Greek citizens are outraged that they are being asked to make more sacrifices, triggering weeks of nearly  non-stop protests.

The leader of Greece's Conservative opposition, Antonis Samaras, reiterated his rejection of Mr. Papandreou's austerity proposals Sunday and called for early elections.

Athens also is negotiating a second bailout package to keep its economy afloat beyond September. But EU leaders have been unable to agree on the terms of such a loan, including how much of its should be funded by the private sector.