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European finance chiefs seek to close Greek gap amid IMF cloud


EUROPEAN Finance ministers aim to stitch together Greece’s next aid payment this week as a sputtering euro-area economy and a spat with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cloud efforts to resolve the debt crisis.

Report by Bloomberg

The finance chiefs are due to meet in Brussels tomorrow for the second time in a week after they agreed seven days ago to keep Greece’s bailout aid flowing.

In addition to a disagreement between the European Union and IMF over softening Greece’s debt target, the ministers will attempt to re-engineer the current bailout without asking taxpayers to put up more money.

The talks are “likely to be tense as all players set out their positions”, Thomas Costerg, an economist at Standard Chartered in London, said in an email: “Greece’s debt can is likely to be kicked further down the road, but we could see some constructive statements.”

The meeting of the ministers from the 17-member euro area underscores continuing skirmishes among EU officials confronting rising unemployment and a slowing economy as they struggle with the three-year-old debt crisis. The finance chiefs’ talks will precede a November 22-23 EU summit to resolve the bloc’s budget, a project threatened by a dispute with the UK.

With tens of thousands of Europeans staging protests last week against austerity measures and unemployment, shifting dynamics in other European countries could foreshadow renewed conflict — an early election in Italy, a regional vote in Spain and an approaching bailout package for Cyprus.

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