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Papademos Meets European Officials Over Stalled Bailout Accord

BusinessWeek – February 08, 2012, 11:35 PM EST
By Marcus Bensasson, Natalie Weeks and Paul Tugwell
Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) — Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos met with European and International Monetary Fund officials to resolve a dispute over pension cuts that threatens to scuttle a 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) rescue package.

Officials of the so-called troika of lenders, representing the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, ended a meeting at the premier’s offices in Athens just before 6 a.m., according to a live broadcast on Antenna TV.

Papademos and the leaders of the three parties supporting the government “agreed on all the points of the program with the exception of one which requires further elaboration and discussion” with the lenders, according to an e-mailed statement from the premier’s office in Athens. “This discussion will occur immediately so that it can be completed in light of the meeting of euro area finance ministers” today.

The hitch came after a meeting of almost eight hours that was due to complete a package designed to help the country avert default that’s been on the table since July. Greece faces a 14.5 billion-euro bond payment on March 20 and is struggling to secure financing to avert a collapse of the economy that could spark a new round of contagion in the euro area.

“There is only one issue, that of pensions, to be resolved,” Antonis Samaras of the New Democracy party, the country’s second-biggest party, told reporters in comments televised live on state-run NET TV. “The talks will continue.”

Markets guarded as Athens strives to reach deal

Reuters Canada – 19 minutes ago
By Chikako Mogi TOKYO (Reuters) – Shares and the euro struggled on Thursday, as sentiment grew cautious after Greek political leaders failed to conclude a deal for a bailout package crucial to avoiding a messy debt default.