IMF says agreement with Greece still far off

(AGI) Rome, June 11 - The International Monetary Fund (IMF),announcing on Thursday that a bail-out deal with Greece remainsdistant, summoned its negotiators back to Washington aftertalks broke down in Brussels. "There are major differencesbetween us in most key areas. There has been no progress innarrowing these differences recently so we are far from anagreement," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told the press, citingconflicting opinions on the pensions system, taxes, andfinancing the public sector. "The ball is very much in Greece'scourt," he commented, declaring that the Fund is ready toresume talks with

(AGI) Rome, June 11 - The International Monetary Fund (IMF),announcing on Thursday that a bail-out deal with Greece remainsdistant, summoned its negotiators back to Washington aftertalks broke down in Brussels. "There are major differencesbetween us in most key areas. There has been no progress innarrowing these differences recently so we are far from anagreement," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told the press, citingconflicting opinions on the pensions system, taxes, andfinancing the public sector. "The ball is very much in Greece'scourt," he commented, declaring that the Fund is ready toresume talks with Athens but without setting a specific date. Awake-up call for Greece also came from an EU announcement thatthe next Eurogroup meeting on June 18 marks a deadline ifAthens wishes to obtain the 7.2 billion euro bailout and avoiddefault. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, meanwhile,insisted that his government is ready to accelerate talks tofind common ground. "The Greek delegation, as agreed, is readyto intensify deliberations in order to conclude a deal soon,even in the next few days," spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridisstated. "For this reason it will continue to work on theremaining questions, such as the fiscal issue andsustainability of the debt." The President of the EuropeanCouncil, Donald Tusk, warned that it is now high time fordecisions and that "there is no more space for gambling". "Myopinion is that the Greek government has to be a bit morerealistic. The day is coming, I'm afraid, when someone declaresthe game over," he stressed. European Commission PresidentJean-Claude Juncker and Tsipras also met in Brussels onThursday for further talks. "President Juncker had animportant, friendly and constructive meeting with PrimeMinister Tsipras that lasted two hours," EU spokeswoman MinaAndreeva said. "President Juncker explained a possible processwith the three institutions that would still permit findingmutually acceptable solutions in time," she added, referring tothe IMF, Commission, and European Central Bank. "We will keepworking in order to come to an agreement," Tsipras affirmed."We are striving to bridge the remaining differences andespecially those on fiscal and financial issues [and] to assurean agreement which will ensure that a Greek recovery includessocial cohesion and viable public indebtedness." The encounterbetween the two leaders followed that between Tsipras, FrancoisHollande, and Angela Merkel on Wednesday evening. The series oftalks boosted markets despite lack of progress, with Athensclosing up 8.92 percent. Other European markets also closedhigher, with London's FTSE 100 and Milan's FTSE MIB closing up0.24 percent and 0.35 percent after recovering from a temporarydrop caused by news of the unsuccessful negotiations with theIMF.. .