Greece hoping to finally secure long-term debt relief deal

Traders work in front of the German share price index DAX board at the stock exchange in Frankfurt Germany

Eurozone ministers said they were optimistic about reaching a bailout deal with Greece to unlock sorely needed rescue cash Thursday but warned Athens would have to wait for a deal on future debt relief.

Lenders are meeting on Thursday to discuss releasing as much as 8.5bn euros (£7.4bn) in funds to Greece. The fund has rallied 26% this year on prospects for economic improvements and more bailout money.

Thursday's compromise agreement with International Monetary Fund shows that the disagreement has yet to be fully dealt with. In essence, that could mean payments could be postponed in the event of an adverse shock.

In 2015, Greece's global creditors signed an agreement with Athens approving a third bailout package worth over $92 billion in exchange for austerity reforms which include pension cuts and tax hikes.

Despite years of austerity since Greece was first bailed out in 2010, the country's debt burden still stands at about 320 billion euros, or around 180 percent of Greece's annual gross domestic product. In addition, he said Greece's growth levels could be taken into account in its repayments. "The figure will only come at the end of the programme", he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers, Pierre Moscovici said the Greek government had respected its bailout commitments and that it's now time for the country's creditors to "take theirs".

"Many think the best solution would have been final approval on debt relief so that there would be absolute clarity", she said.

Greece has been promised some form of help on its long-term debt repayments if it delivered wide-ranging economic reforms and kept a tight control on its spending.

The Eurogroup says it should be able to proceed with the next tranche of loans to Greece, after Eurozone states complete national procedures authorising it.

"There is now light at the end of the tunnel", Greece's Euclid Tsakalotos told reporters after meeting fellow euro zone finance ministers and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde in Luxembourg.

Berlin wants to retain some leverage over the Greek government to make sure reforms remaining under the bailout are implemented.

The Greek government, whose popularity has fallen sharply as it imposed more austerity measures, faced more criticism Thursday when more than 2,000 elderly protesters marched through central Athens to demonstrate against pension cuts.

"We can't live on 300 euros (£260)!" they chanted, with some waving sticks.

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, left, speaks with Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan during a meeting at the office of the European Stability Mechanism in Luxembourg on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

But Berlin, Greece's sternest critic, has resisted any fresh commitment to debt relief, saying Athens did not need it and must continue reforms.

However, the eurozone's top official, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, sought to downplay expectations of how far the ministers' meeting, called eurogroup, would get on the question of debt relief on Thursday. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

"My proposal, the French proposal, is of course still on the table", French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

Germany is confident that its struggling eurozone neighbour Greece will secure the funding it needs to pay its bills.

"It's hard. It's complicated", he said.

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