* Troika of inspectors arrived in Athens on Friday
* Lenders expected to decide on next aid tranche next month
By Lefteris Papadimas
ATHENS, Sept 9 Greece's foreign lenders have
rejected parts of a nearly 12-billion-euro austerity package
prepared by the government, Greek officials said on Sunday as
the two sides resumed talks after a month-long hiatus.
The so-called "troika" of inspectors from the European
Commission, the European Central Bank and the International
Monetary Fund returned to Athens on Friday to conclude a report
on Greece's progress in meeting the terms of its latest bailout.
The inspectors, who held talks with Greece's finance
minister on Sunday, must approve the plan to trim roughly 11.7
billion euros from the state budget over the next two years if
Athens is to get a green light for the bailout money it needs to
"The troika has not accepted all the measures, but we have
alternative proposals," said Socialist leader Evangelos
Venizelos, a junior partner in the ruling coalition who was
briefed by the finance minister at a party leaders' meeting.
Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras played down the
inspectors' objections, saying they had rejected only a "few"
measures. A senior Greek government official had said earlier
that the troika had sought more details on the proposals to
understand them better.
Officials declined to specify what the objections related to
but a source familiar with the matter said they were over
measures to save roughly 2 billion euros by cutting expenses in
the public sector.
"A GOOD MEETING"
The IMF's mission chief to Greece, Poul Thomsen, told
reporters as he left that the two sides had held a "good
The austerity package, which Prime Minister Antonis Samaras
has yet to persuade his allies to sign off on, contains a new
round of unpopular wage and pension cuts for the next two years
that his coalition partners are loathe to be associated with.
The latest round of talks on Sunday between Samaras and his
allies, Venizelos and Democratic Left chief Fotis Kouvelis,
failed to get an agreement on the austerity package and the
three sides said they would resume discussions on Wednesday.
The premier's allies have objected to across-the-board cuts
on wages and pensions saying they want to shield poorer Greeks
from further misery.
They also want a greater emphasis on measures to revive an
economy languishing in its fifth year of recession. They deny
that the fragile three-party coalition is at risk over the
Thousands of Greeks demonstrated against the proposed cuts
at a prominent annual trade fair on Saturday in the northern
city of Thessaloniki, and more protests are expected in the
Athens argues it needs two more years to push through the
austerity cuts because of a deepening recession, but the
country's lenders - exasperated by broken promises of reform -
have demanded the country first deliver on its pledges before
seeking any concessions.
Greece faces bankruptcy and a potential euro zone exit
without the next tranche of aid, an issue that European leaders
are expected to decide on next month.