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Germany's Schaeuble says no Greece deal possible before referendum

[BERLIN] German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Wednesday a deal between debt-wracked Greece and creditors won't be possible before its referendum on Sunday on bailout terms.

Athens has sent an "amended" proposal to creditors in the hope of staving off financial ruin, but Mr Schaeuble said "before the referendum there is indeed no basis" to strike an agreement.

In angry comments after Greece crashed out of its EU aid programme and defaulted on an IMF loan on Tuesday, he accused the left-wing government of misleading the Greek people.

"They aren't doing any favours to their people if they keep misrepresenting the facts," he fumed. "It's not others who are to blame for their problems." After months of frustrating talks, he accused the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of making "incredibly untruthful claims that are not remotely related with reality".

Mr Schaeuble also said Greece was sending mixed signals in debt talks and called on its government to "clarify its position" before negotiations with creditors can resume.

He pointed to recent conflicting reports on whether Athens still plans a referendum Sunday on bailout terms and whether it would support a yes or no vote, noting that "all of this is no basis for discussions on serious measures."

"That's why first of all Greece must clarify its position on what it wants, and then we will have to talk about it, under conditions that are now far more difficult," Mr Schaeuble told a Berlin press conference.

Mr Schaeuble pointed out that the proposal "to be rejected or accepted doesn't exist anymore and never existed" - because the European offer in question was rejected by Athens last week and the aid programme formally expired on Tuesday night.

Since the programme ended at the stroke of midnight, "the legal and actual facts" had entirely changed, he said.

"We are ready for any eventuality, but we are in a really difficult situation," he said, blaming "entirely the behaviour of the Greek leaders, which is no longer comprehensible to anyone".


Read more on the Greek crisis here