Nov.23 - International lenders have reportedly agreed new steps to cut Greece's debt pile further but it still has to fill a 10 billion euro gap to gain the IMF's approval for its next tranche of aid, according to a senior Greek official. Ciara Sutton reports.
A week of demonstrations in Greece as yet more public sector jobs go. Teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, frustration is mounting that international lenders are still squabbling over a deal to unlock fresh aid. It could be third time lucky for euro group leaders meeting again on Monday as reports suggest the IMF may relax debt-cutting targets. Other options said to be on the cards include extending maturities on loans, and a 10 billion euro debt buyback plan by the government. An official at country's finance ministry has suggested the ECB may even sacrifice profits on its Greek bond holdings. Berenberg Bank's Holger Schmieding. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ECONOMIST AT BERENBERG BANK, HOLGER SHCHMIEDING, SAYING: "The key is that Greece gets a vision for staying in the euro, gets financing for the next few years. And with that the Greek economy can eventually stabalise and once the Greek economy has stabalised, then all these discussions about debt sustainability would have a much more solid basis." The euro hit a three-week high on hopes of fresh funding. And the European FTSEurofirst 300 index edged up for its best week since May. ECB Chief Mario Draghi welcomed the change in sentiment. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK PRESIDENT MARIO DRAGHI, SAYING: "I can address you today against the background of a relative return of confidence in the prospects of the euro area. The return of confidence is justified but it relies on three things: First, given that the return of confidence was related in part to the announcement of OMT, I'd like to assure financial markets that we stand ready to implement this program as and when required." So far Greece has received nearly 149 billion euros from the EU and IMF, but it needs the additional 91 billion euros. Also feeling the pain of Greece's woes, Cyprus looks set to become the fourth euro zone member to seek a sovereign rescue. A deal of up to 17.5 billion euros is expected to be formalised after its financial system suffered huge losses on heavy exposure to Greek debt.