ATHENS/BRUSSELS - Optimism is growing that Greece has finally done enough to secure a second bailout after it set out extra budget savings, but the moves failed to ease tensions with EU paymaster Germany.
Time is running out for Greece to seal the 130 billion euro ($170 billion) rescue and avoid bankruptcy, but Greek officials hope euro zone finance ministers will sign the deal off on Monday - a month before Athens needs the money to make 14.5 billion euros of debt repayments due on March 20.
The optimism followed acrimony between Athens and northern states in the 17-member currency union, led by Germany, and came only after a proposal to withhold part of the bailout until after Greek elections expected in April was dropped.
"We are almost there," one euro zone official said, expressing hope the deal could be done when ministers of the Eurogroup meet in Brussels.
"Unless someone really comes up with an idea to undermine the whole deal, it should be approved on Monday," he said.
In a further sign of an emerging agreement, euro zone sources said national central banks in the currency bloc would exchange holdings of Greek bonds this weekend in the run-up to a private sector debt deal to avoid taking forced losses.
With a go-ahead from the Eurogroup ministers, Greece can formally launch a debt restructuring offer to its private creditors which aims to halve the face value of what Greece owes the investors, slashing its debts by 100 billion euros.
"There is no certainty but there is cautious optimism,"Antonis Samaras, leader of Greece's conservative New Democracy party and the favourite to win the elections, told reporters.
"Greece has done what it had to do," said Samaras, whose party is one of the two remaining in the coalition of technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.