Portuguese finmin says deal on Greece "very close"

BERLIN Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:04pm EST

BERLIN Nov 21 (Reuters) - International lenders are very close to a deal to get Greece's debt down to a sustainable level, Portugal's Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar said on Wednesday, after all-night negotiations failed to clinch an accord for a second week running.

"We are very close to an agreement about Greece and therefore that will be a very positive development, which is important for Greece, it is important for the euro area, it is important for Portugal and I dare to say it is important for Germany as well," Gaspar said in a joint news conference with German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble.

After nearly 12 hours of talks through the night during which numerous options were discussed, euro zone finance ministers, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank failed to reach a consensus needed for the disbursing of emergency aid to Athens.

Speaking after a conference in Germany's finance ministry, Schaeuble showered Portugal with praise for its reform efforts, calling it a "great example for Europe", and said he believed a majority of Portuguese people would back the painful measures.

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