EU's Dijsselbloem expects deal on Greek bailout next week: spokesman

Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem talks to the media as he arrives at European Union finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The chair of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers expects a deal on the Greek bailout program at a meeting on June 15, his spokesman said on Friday.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who plays a key role in the Greek talks, expected a “deal on the full completion of the second review” at the Eurogroup meeting in Luxembourg next week, his spokesman told Reuters.

A conclusion of the second review of the 86 billion euro ($96 billion) bailout would include the unblocking of new loans for Athens, which are needed to pay debts due in July.

The chief of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, is set to attend the meeting of euro zone finance ministers next week, a further sign that differences between the IMF and Greece’s EU creditors are narrowing on additional debt relief measures for Athens.

Some euro zone lenders, led by Germany, have linked the disbursement of new financial aid to IMF participation in the bailout program, which is in turn linked to new debt relief for Greece to improve its financial stability.

In spite of the growing optimism, a meeting of euro zone representatives on Thursday did not achieve much progress, leaving key issues in the hands of finance ministers next week, two EU officials told Reuters.

“There were useful further clarifications on a technical level but the topic will have to be sorted out by the ministers on 15 June in Luxembourg,” an EU official who participated to the talks said.

EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis reiterated on Thursday calls to unlock funds to avoid further negative effects on the Greek economy, already weakened by months of protracted talks on new loans.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Robin Pomeroy