* No deal before euro zone finmin meeting Monday
* Greece needs extra savings to clinch new credit tranche
* Protests expected on Tuesday when Merkel visits
By Renee Maltezou
ATHENS, Oct 6 Greece will continue talks with
international lenders next week on new austerity measures for
the debt-ridden country to clinch its next loan tranche, the
finance minister said on Saturday, with both sides saying
progress had been made.
Negotiators had been pushing for a deal before a meeting of
euro zone finance ministers on Monday, but Greece said it would
settle for a statement acknowledging that talks were advancing.
"We will continue next week as well," Finance Minister
Yannis Stournaras told reporters following talks in Athens with
Greece's troika of creditors - the European Union, European
Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
"We hope there will be a positive presentation from the
troika, the IMF, EU and ECB, at the eurogroup," he said. "We're
trying to reach a compromise that will be in the interests of
the economy and the poor."
Five consecutive years of recession have driven unemployment
to record levels, gutted household incomes and led to repeated
bouts of protest and unrest on the streets of the Greek capital.
New protests are expected on Tuesday when German Chancellor
Angela Merkel will make her first visit to Greece since the euro
zone debt crisis erupted in late 2009.
The trip represents a show of support for the government of
conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and an apparent
signal of the determination of Europe's most powerful leader to
keep Greece within the euro.
Earlier on Saturday, a senior Greek government official said
the sides needed another two weeks to agree a pact on almost 12
billion euros of new savings to secure the next tranche of some
31.5 billion euros ($41.14 billion) in urgently needed loans.
Without it, Greece says it will run out of money at the end
The official said there had been "convergence" in the talks
and that a positive statement from euro zone finance ministers
on Monday would mark a "signal for talks to continue ... next
week and the week after that".
The cuts are necessary to keep the Greek budget within the
targets set by the EU and IMF under the terms of the latest
multi-billion-euro bailout staving off bankruptcy and a messy
exit from the single European currency.
Greek sources say the talks are stuck on some 1.2-1.5
billion euros of savings, with the government - an uneasy
alliance of conservatives and socialists - trying to avoid even
deeper cuts to public sector wages and pensions.
The IMF sounded an upbeat note.
Fund chief Christine Lagarde told a news conference in
Riyadh on Saturday that talks on one element of the Greek
programme, the fiscal chapter, had been "very good and
productive". The talks also cover structural reforms, financing
and debt sustainability.
EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn said
negotiations had "moved on" and that agreement was possible in
the coming days.