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Greek debt talks break down

Monday, February 16, 2015 - 01:41

Talks between Greece and euro zone finance ministers over the country's debt have broken down. As Sonia Legg reports Athens rejected a proposal to request a six-month extension of its international bailout as ''unacceptable''.

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No-one was expecting an early breakthrough. But the collapse of talks in Brussels with euro zone finance ministers so soon after they started disappointed even the more pessimistic. The EU had proposed extending its international bailout programme by six months, keeping the same conditions. Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROGROUP CHAIR, JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM, SAYING: "The euro group ministers were unanimous on this point. It really is up to the Greek government now to decide whether they want an extension to the programme. Within that programme a lot of changes are possible, their is flexibility but the main features of the programme, keeping the budget on track, reforming the economy have to be maintained. But the first step will be an extension and the next step is let's talk about the content of the programme but no the other way around." Greece was having none of it. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GREEK FINANCE MINISTER YANIS VAROUFAKIS, SAYING: "We want an honourable settlement. We want to wed together these principals - the principal that there is a programme that has to be accepted and the principal that there is a government that challenges the logic of this programme and let's find common ground between the two. that's what we have been saying from the beginning. It is not a bluff because it is the only option we have. It is Plan A there is no Plan B." In Athens crowds gathered outside parliament in support of their new government. A new poll says four out of five Greeks want to stay in the euro. But the anti-austerity stance is popular too - and one in three people want Greece's leaders to stand tough even if it means a return to the drachma. That's now looking more likely. The current bailout programme ends at the end of the month. Without a new deal Greece could run out of money - and be left with an option both sides say they don't want.

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Greek debt talks break down

Monday, February 16, 2015 - 01:41