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Germany says 'the ball is in Greece's court' in debt talks

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Germany's finance ministry said Monday it is now up to Greece to make proposals to reach a deal with its creditors that will save it from default in down-to-the-wire talks.

[BERLIN] Germany's finance ministry said Monday it is now up to Greece to make proposals to reach a deal with its creditors that will save it from default in down-to-the-wire talks.

"The ball is in Greece's court," a finance ministry spokesman told a Berlin press conference, a day after discussions in Brussels between Athens and its international creditors again collapsed.

"It is exclusively up to the Greek side to respond to the generous offer of the institutions" - the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund - stressed the spokesman, Martin Jaeger.

The statements from Germany, the EU's biggest economy and effective paymaster, contrasted with that of Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, who wrote in a newspaper that "we will wait patiently until the institutions become more realistic".

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The German finance ministry spokesman warned that "time is running out" in the talks between Greece's left-wing government and the three international creditors, who were however working "tirelessly and with full commitment".

Greece faces an end-of-the-month deadline to repay 1.6 billion euros (S$2.4 billion) to the IMF, with analysts warning that there is now more of a chance of a default than ever before, which could see it tumble out of the eurozone.

The creditors are demanding reforms in return for the last 7.2 billion euros of Greece's 240-billion-euro bailout, which expires on June 30.

To meet that deadline, hopes are focused on a meeting of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers in Luxembourg on Thursday.

German chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert stressed that Berlin's basic position hadn't changed.

"We want Greece to remain in the euro," he said.

"Greece must ... agree with the three institutions on a reform package that overall leads to the necessary fiscal and structural results, and for that Greece must lay out the steps with which it will achieve this."

AFP

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