BRUSSELS Greece and its international lenders made substantial progress in talks on Friday to bridge differences over reforms that would ensure Athens' agreed fiscal path, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem said in a statement.
He said the talks on Friday brought all sides close to a stage when lenders can send a mission of experts to Greece to prepare a report on the completion of the batch of agreed reforms, called a staff level agreement.
Such a staff level agreement would then pave the way for a decision by euro zone finance ministers to disburse new loans to Greece, without which Athens would default on its debt in July.
"We made substantial progress today and are close to common ground for the mission to return to Athens the coming week," Dijsselbloem said.
The mission is made up of representatives of the European Central Bank, the European Commission, the euro zone bailout fund ESM and the International Monetary Fund.
"There is a clear understanding that a timely finalisation of the second review is in everybody's interest," Dijsselbloem said. "We will take stock of the further progress of the second review during the next Eurogroup."
(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski)