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Greece concludes "positive" talks with auditors on new austerity cuts

(Xinhua)

09:47, August 06, 2012

ATHENS, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- The Greek government on Sunday wrapped up a two-week "positive" round of talks with auditors representing international lenders over austerity measures to unlock further bailout loans deemed vital for Athens to stay afloat.

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras agreed with the EU/International Monetary Fund (IMF) inspectors during a meeting on Sunday on a big bulk of the 11.5-billion-euro austerity package which will be implemented from 2013 to 2014, amidst a "positive atmosphere," according to sources from both sides.

Sources with the Greek government sources said the package contains new cuts on pensions and social benefits and a possible increase of the retirement age by a year to 66.

"We made good progress. We will return in early September," Poul Thomsen, head of IMF's mission for Greece, told the Press after Sunday's meeting.

By then the three partners of the Greek coalition government are expected to have finalized details of the fresh austerity package, just in time for the final round of discussions with auditors and a Eurogroup summit scheduled for September 3.

Based on a positive inspectors' report on the ailing Greek economy and the progress of the austerity and reform program agreed between Athens and lenders since 2010, Greece will receive the next installment of aid funding worth 31.5 billion euro this autumn.

Otherwise, Greece faces the prospect of a disorderly default and subsequent exit from the euro zone which could destabilize the entire European common currency zone.

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