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Update: Greece says no to EU on any commitment to existing bailout

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Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will not agree to anything at a meeting with eurozone partners next week that keeps Greece's current international bailout programme in place, a government official said on Friday.

[ATHENS] Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will not agree to anything at a meeting with eurozone partners next week that keeps Greece's current international bailout programme in place, a government official said on Friday.

Instead Greece will ask for a "bridge agreement" to keep its finances running until Athens is able to present a new debt and reform programme.

"We will not accept any deal which is not related to a new programme," the official, who asked not to be named, said.

Mr Varoufakis has just returned to Athens after a tour of European capitals in which he received scant support for his new left-wing government's pledge to end austerity imposed under the bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

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Eurogroup finance ministers will discuss how to proceed with financial support for Athens at a special session next Wednesday in preparation for talks among EU leaders on the issue the following day.

The Greek official said Mr Varoufakis was expecting tough treatment from his partners at the meeting, including a demand that Greece commit to the existing bailout programme, which ends at the end of February, and then accept an extension.

This is anathema to the new Greek government, led by radical left-wing Syriza party, that came to power on a wave of anti-austerity anger in elections last month.

Germany, the major eurozone power, wants the government to go back on anti-austerity promises made in its first days in office and revert to economic policies agreed by its predecessor with international lenders.

A document prepared by Berlin for the Eurogroup meeting stressed that Athens must not roll back any of the cutbacks and reforms made so far.

REUTERS

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