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Greece to get up to 15 billion euros after third bailout: German official

BERLIN (Reuters) - Greece will likely get up to 15 billion euros ($17.33 billion) from its euro zone allies for stabilization after its third bailout program ends in August, a senior German government official said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: A view of the cityscape of Athens, Greece, March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis/File Photo

Euro zone finance ministers will discuss debt relief for Greece on Thursday to ensure the country can return to market financing after eight years of loans from euro zone governments and to enable sustained economic growth.

The euro zone is also considering leaving Greece with enough cash so that it does not have to borrow from the market for the next 18 to 24 months.

How long such a cash send-off would last in practice will depend on debt relief steps, such as the potential replacement of more expensive loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with cheaper euro zone credit.

The German government official said the additional cash for Greece would be taken from unused funds made available in its third bailout.

The official said all parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition had agreed that a financial contribution of 1.6 billion euros from the IMF was no longer being viewed as compulsory.

The additional measures for Greece must be approved by the budget committee of Germany’s Bundestag, the official said, adding a vote by all lawmakers of the lower house of parliament could not be ruled out.

Such a vote could turn out to be risky for Merkel who faced a record rebellion among her conservatives in 2015 when the Bundestag approved the third bailout for Greece but 63 lawmakers from her CDU/CSU bloc rejected the deal.

The German official did not comment on the issue of debt relief measures for Greece.

The euro zone is considering extending the maturities and grace periods, though only on loans granted to Greece under the second bailout, by up to 15 years. The average loan maturity now is 32.5 years.

This would mean the re-profiling of 130 billion euros, or about 40 percent of Greece’s debt, and would smooth out some debt servicing peaks after 2030, giving Athens a better chance to issue bonds of 10 years and more in the coming years.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber,; Editing by Joseph Nasr and Janet Lawrence