Hardouvelis, Venizelos meet over troika talks deadlock

Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis was meeting with deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos at 10 a.m. on Wednesday to discuss the apparent deadlock in ongoing negotiations between the Greek government and troika representatives.

Inspectors from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund were due to return to Greece after the results of the European bank stress tests last month, but have yet to arrive, leaving just three weeks to reach a deal before a targeted December 8 deadline set by Athens.

Discussions on a follow-up program can begin “only once a staff-level agreement for the completion of the review has been reached,” European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday. Troika representatives will return to Athens to complete the review “as soon as the conditions are there,” she said.

“We are in a tough phase,” Hardouvelis said during a meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday. “In this interim period, nerves are stretched on all sides. It's not just us, it's also on the side of the lenders.”

The two sides are mainly at odds over the projected size of a budget gap for 2015, according to a senior Greek government official. The lenders argue the government's plan to let Greeks repay arrears to the state in 100 installments would widen this gap. [Combined reports]

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