(adds quotes from ESM spokesman)
BRUSSELS, March 29 Greece's lenders on Wednesday
could not confirm what sources said was a preliminary deal on
open issues of the country's bailout and said possible debt
relief measures will be decided only at the end of the financial
aid programme, contrary to Athens' will.
Negotiations between Greece, the European Union and the
International Monetary Fund - which has yet to decide if it will
participate in Greece's current bailout - have dragged on for
months, rekindling fears of a new financial crisis in the euro
Sources close to the talks said earlier on Wednesday that
Greece had reached an agreement with its lenders on some of the
main issues on the table, including labour reforms, spending
cuts and energy issues, moving closer to clinching a deal before
a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on April 7
But a Commission spokeswoman told a regular news conference
the EU executive could not confirm those reports. Two other EU
officials said that no preliminary deal had been reached yet.
The main focus of the talks have been pension cuts, energy
and labour reforms. Those additional measures, worth 2 percent
of GDP, would help convince the IMF to participate in the
bailout, as demanded by EU countries including Germany.
In an earlier statement, a spokesman for the European
Stability Mechanism, the euro zone's bailout fund, had said that
possible additional debt relief measures for Greece could be
decided only at the end of the bailout programme, contrary to
Athens' hopes of an earlier deal to reduce its huge debt.
"We will determine at the end of the programme in August
2018 whether medium term measures are needed to ensure debt
sustainability," the ESM spokesman said.
The spokesman reiterated that the possible measures could
include the extension of maturities and possible interest rate
deferral, but not the capping of interest rates.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Alison Williams)