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[ATHENS] Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos expressed confidence Tuesday that Athens and its creditors will reach a deal on a new bailout in time for August 20, when a huge debt payment is due.
Leaving a meeting with chief negotiators from Greece's creditors - the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund - Mr Tsakalotos told journalists the talks were going "at least as well as we expected".
"It's no worse, and is perhaps even a little better than I expected," he added.
Greece is seeking a massive third bailout from its creditors in a bid to avoid defaulting on its enormous debts and crashing out of the eurozone.
Both sides are under pressure to hammer out the deal before August 20, when Athens is due to pay the ECB 3.4 billion euros (S$5.11 billion). If the deal has not been finalised by then, Greece will be forced to seek emergency aid to pay the debt.
Asked whether negotiators would manage to meet the looming deadline, Mr Tsakalotos said: "Yes. It's never been said, either on our part or their part, that the deadline would not be met." He added that there had been "no discussion" with the creditors on a possible emergency loan to allow Greece to make the ECB payment on August 20.
Athens therefore hopes to pay the debt with the first instalment of the bailout, worth up to 86 billion euros over three years, which was agreed in principle last month.
Greece was forced to seek an emergency loan of 7.16 billion euros fromhttp://www.businesstimes.com.sg/focus/in-depth the European Union late last month in order to pay debts due to the ECB and IMF.
Read more on the Greek crisis here