Greek PM seeks EU talks after ECB snub

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

ATHENS - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has requested a meeting with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, a government source said Friday, after Athens got no help from the European Central Bank to address a cash squeeze.

"The prime minister called Mr Juncker to arrange a meeting next week," a government source said.

German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung had earlier reported that Tsipras had wanted to see Juncker today, but his request was turned down.

Athens is scrambling to find cash to address a mounting debt repayment schedule this month.

It had pinned its hopes on the European Central Bank giving more leeway to Greek banks to buy state bonds.

But the ECB on Thursday maintained a tough line on Athens, saying it was prepared to give more room on financing once the Greek government reaches a debt deal with its eurozone partners.

The ECB recently cut off a key channel of financing for Greek banks, saying it would no longer accept Greek sovereign bonds as collateral for loans.

That means they now rely solely on emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) which is more expensive than normal central bank refinancing operations.

ELA funds are also limited by the ECB, as well as the amount of short-term treasury bills that Athens can issue.

Greece's new radical government has until April to present reform proposals to its EU-IMF creditors in order to win approval for its plans for a four-year economic recovery blueprint.

But until an agreement is reached, Athens has no access to funds remaining in its 240-billion euro (S$329 billion) EU-IMF bailout.

And Greece this month needs to find around 6.0 billion euros for debt repayments.

To speed up the process, the Greek finance ministry has said it will present a first batch of concrete proposals to eurozone ministers on Monday.

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