Greece optimistic of deal with lenders despite banking impasse

ATHENS, March 5 Wed Mar 5, 2014 4:48am EST

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ATHENS, March 5 (Reuters) - A dispute between Greece and its foreign lenders over the capital shortfall for the country's top four banks need not hold up an overall deal paving the way for more aid, Greece's government spokesman said on Wednesday.

Hopes of a quick deal faded on Tuesday when, a source close to the talks told Reuters, Greece's EU/IMF creditors refused to accept the central Bank of Greece's figures and were insisting the banks need an extra 8-8.5 billion euros.

After the talks between the two sides failed to reach agreement, a senior Greek finance ministry official said that the creditors' review would not be concluded in time for a Eurogroup meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Monday as initially hoped.

But government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou suggested the impasse would not be an issue, saying the European Central Bank - part of the troika of lenders that have bailed out Greece - has said that it would accept the Bank of Greece's findings.

"We are optimistic that we will have an initial deal by the Eurogroup on Monday," Kedikoglou said on Wednesday.

A senior Greek official pinned the impasse on the International Monetary Fund, saying the European inspectors were backing Greece's stance.

Greece, which has been bailed out by the EU and IMF twice since 2010, has no pressing funding needs until May when bond payments of nearly 10 billion euros are due.

The Bank of Greece plans to release its report on the stress tests on the banks, which have been battered by the crisis, later this week. The central bank estimates Greek banks need between 5.8-6.2 billion euros in additional capital, below the sum pinned by lenders. (Reporting by Renee Maltezou, editing by Deepa Babington/Jeremy Gaunt)

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