May 22, 2017 / 10:21 PM / 2 months ago

IMF could join Greek bailout in three weeks: Eurogroup head

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Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem rings the bell as he chairs a eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium May 22, 2017.Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund could join the Greek bailout program at the latest in three weeks, the head of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers said on Monday at the end of a meeting which ended with no deal.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that euro zone ministers were "very close" to an agreement with the IMF on the terms of additional debt relief for Athens, which is also instrumental to unlock new loans for Greece.

He said negotiators agreed that Greece's primary surplus - before interest payments - should remain at 3.5 percent of the Greek gross domestic product for five years after the end of the bailout program in 2018.

He said that the IMF was ready to join the program, a condition for new disbursements to Greece set by some countries such as Germany, but the fund needed more clarity on what the euro zone can offer in terms of debt relief before making a final decision.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio and Jan Strupczewski

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