Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras flew to Brussels Wednesday to plead for new aid from his country's creditors, with Athens running out of money and facing a series of loan payments due the International Monetary Fund.
Greece owes the IMF $1.8 billion in four payments over the next two weeks, starting with $336 million on Friday; but, it may not have enough money left in its coffers to make even the first payment, opening the possibility of a default.
Tsipras met with Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Union's executive commission, and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the eurozone's top financial official, about further debt relief for Athens. Economically weak Greece has not received any infusion of cash since August from its main creditors, the IMF, its EU neighbors and the European Central Bank.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she is working "with high intensity" to resolve the standoff with Greece. French President Francois Hollande voiced optimism about reaching a deal, saying, "We are some days, not to say some hours away from a possible agreement."
Before leaving Athens, Tsipras said, "We need unity; we must avoid division. I am certain the political leadership of Europe will do what it must. It will sign up to realism."
Some European officials, who already have sent hundreds of billions of dollars in loans to Greece over the last several years, voiced reluctance at approving more aid, saying the Greek government must live up to its economic austerity commitments to rein in spending, raise taxes and cut government payrolls.
"What we have to do is to make clear to Alexis Tsipras and his new government that we respect that there is a new government," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in Paris, "but they have to respect that Greece as a country has made certain agreements with the European Union and they have to live up to those agreements."
Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.