Greece launches talks with EU, IMF, ECB inspection team

Greece launches talks with EU, IMF, ECB inspection team

PanARMENIAN.Net - International debt inspectors started new talks Thursday, July 26, with the Greek government that will determine whether the country keeps receiving vital rescue loans or is forced to default and potentially leave the common European currency union, AP reports.

The heads of an inspection team from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank met for more than two hours with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.

A senior ministry official said that "both sides are well-disposed to find the best possible solutions." The official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the government has identified proposed spending cuts for the next two years and would present them to the inspectors "very likely within the day."

Later Thursday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will hold talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras during his first official visit to Athens since mid-2009, when Greece's acute financial crisis broke out.

Talks with the EU, IMF and ECB inspectors - commonly known as the troika - are focusing on the progress of a program of stringent spending cuts and other austerity measures imposed on Greece as a condition for two international bailouts keeping the country solvent.

The bulk of the new cuts - worth an estimated €5 billion - will be borne by the Labor, Social Security and Welfare Ministry. Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, who will meet troika inspectors next week, has pledged that the cuts will be implemented "as fairly as possible."

Health spending will be reduced by some €600 million, partly through department mergers and development of ministry assets.

Greece's GSEE main labor union on Thursday said it strongly opposed the prospect of further belt-tightening for pensioners and workers.

"The decisions on new cuts in pensions and welfare benefits are not only unfair and ineffective, but will deliver the coup de grace to all those who have made the greatest sacrifices so far," a union statement said.

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