Greece talks 'difficult', 'major issue of trust': Dijsselbloem

Greece talks 'difficult', 'major issue of trust': Dijsselbloem
Eurogroup President Dijsselbloem gestures during an euro zone finance ministers meeting in Brussels.
PHOTO: Reuters

BRUSSELS - Talks between eurozone finance ministers on Greece's last-ditch bailout request will be "quite difficult" given the crucial need to rebuild trust with Athens, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Saturday.

"We are not there yet. There is a major issue of trust -- can the Greek government be trusted to do what they are promising in coming weeks, months and years?" said Dijsselbloem, who is also Dutch finance minister.

"They will have to show a major commitment to rebuild that trust," he said, adding it will be "quite a difficult meeting" in the Belgian capital.

The finance ministers from the 19-country euro area gathered in Brussels Saturday to review Greece's proposals for market-oriented reforms in exchange for its third bailout since 2010, needed to prevent it from crashing out of the European single currency.

The meeting comes ahead of a make-or-break summit Sunday of the leaders of all 28 EU nations.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin of France, which has been more supportive of Greece than some other eurozone partners, also said the talks would be difficult.

"Confidence is a crucial element of an agreement," Sapin told reporters.

"If we want a lasting agreement, the Greeks must provide responses on when they will decide ...and at what pace they will do it," he said, suggesting the international creditors would seek a precise timetable for carrying out reforms.

Hardline eurozone nations question why, after two bailouts over the past five years totalling 240 billion euros, Greece should be given another chance, especially after what they see as backsliding by Athens on its reform commitments.

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