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[BRUSSELS] Greece can still reach an agreement with its creditors on a new bailout program in time to make a payment to the European Central Bank in two weeks, according to the European Commission.
"Intense work is ongoing in all areas," Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters in Brussels on Thursday. She said officials were already drafting the memorandum of understanding - the document outlining Greece's conditions in return for aid - and said a deal by Aug 20 was possible.
Ms Andreeva was responding to a report in German newspaper Bild that cited unidentified German government officials casting doubt on an agreement in time for Greece to pay 3.2 billion euros (US$3.5 billion) to the ECB and that a second short-term loan would be necessary. Greece received a 7.2 billion-euro bridge loan last month to allow it to clear arrears with the International Monetary Fund and to repay the ECB.
"Our teams are on the ground now for almost two weeks and they report satisfactory progress," Ms Andreeva said. "I'm not aware that anyone else is on the ground and would therefore have a better overview than we do."
Progress in reaching a deal has been made in areas including tax reform, public administration, how Greek authorities work with the creditor institutions and how Greece uses technical assistance to ensure lasting implementation of reforms, an EU official said by e-mail on the condition of anonymity because the talks are ongoing.