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Greek deal possible, little contagion if not: Irish fin min

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Greece's reshuffling of its team handling talks with creditors indicate it is serious about reaching an agreement and if that fails to happen, there would be very little contagion effect, Ireland's finance minister said on Wednesday.

[DUBLIN] Greece's reshuffling of its team handling talks with creditors indicate it is serious about reaching an agreement and if that fails to happen, there would be very little contagion effect, Ireland's finance minister said on Wednesday.

Despite the scepticism of lenders, Greece's government is hoping an "interim" deal can be struck before a May 12 payment of 750 million euros to the IMF that Greek officials have suggested could be difficult to pull off without more aid.

Asked if an agreement was achievable, Michael Noonan said he thought it was and that Greece's problems could be fixed without its European and IMF lenders having to write off any of the euro zone struggler's debts.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday reshuffled his team handling the talks, a move widely seen as an effort to relegate embattled Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis to a less active role in negotiations.

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"I don't know the reasons for the change but without casting any aspersions on the finance minister, it looks to me like a commitment to finding a negotiated settlement. That's good news," Mr Noonan told Ireland's national broadcaster RTE.

"He's a pleasant, sociable person but the proposals he's making has left him very isolated within the European group,"Noonan, who attends Eurogroup meetings with other euro zone finance ministers, said of Varoufakis.

Euro zone officials were due to discuss Greece on Wednesday after Athens said it would present a list of reforms for legislation to show it is serious about acting on pledges to secure aid.

Asked what impact a Greek default would have, Mr Noonan said the euro zone was much better positioned than it was a few years ago to withstand such a scenario. "We think there'd be very little contagion effect for Ireland and for Europe," Mr Noonan said. "There'll be a big problem for the Greeks but it won't have a wider implication because all the buffers are in place now that protects the spread of contagion."

REUTERS

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