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BRUSSELS, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Euro zone finance ministers are in favour of granting Greece a two-month extension of its bailout program, which Athens will ask for on Tuesday, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Monday.
The EU had considered extending the current bailout by six months to mid-2015, a document obtained by Reuters showed last week. But Athens had said it was only willing to consider extending the unpopular programme by a few weeks.
“We need an extension,” Dijsselbloem said after euro zone finance ministers discussed the bailout plan, pointing out that it would not be possible to conclude a review of the program before year-end.
“Let’s do this as quickly as we can, and in our mind that is two months,” he added. “Two months is long enough to complete review and not too long to leave questions open for the future.”
Greece’s parliament approved next year’s budget in the early hours of Monday, the plan being closest to a balanced budget Greece has produced in more than three decades.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is struggling to push through an early exit from the bailout and ensure the survival of his government after a presidential vote next year.
A row with the EU and IMF over a disputed budget shortfall next year has held up the country’s final bailout inspection and plans to exit the aid programme. Greece’s lenders are demanding 1.7 billion euros in additional measures to hit budget targets next year, something Athens has rejected.
EU Economics Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said inspectors would be back to Athens on Tuesday to conclude the review.
Dijsselbloem said after the bailout ends, euro zone countries support a credit line for Greece.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had said earlier on Monday that Greece may need some more time before the last bailout credit tranche can be disbursed by international lenders, adding however that overall the country was on the right path. (Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Ingrid Melander; editing by Robin Emmott)