VALLETTA (Reuters) - Greece and its lenders are likely to reach a deal on reforms in exchange for loans in "some days", German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said, adding euro zone ministers might agree on a common set of economic forecasts for Athens on Friday.
Diverging views among lenders on the level of primary surplus Greece is likely to achieve and maintain from 2018 was one of the main reasons holding up an agreement on the reforms Athens needs to implement to get new cheap loans from the euro zone.
Institutions representing euro zone governments believe Greece will keep a 3.5 percent surplus also in 2019, but the International Monetary Fund, which euro zone governments want to join the bailout for credibility reasons, was sceptical.
"It is true that the IMF was always a little bit too pessimistic in recent years, compared to reality," Schaeuble told reporters on entering the meeting of euro zone finance ministers, referring to Greece's primary surplus and economic forecasts.
"The biggest stretch of the road is already behind us, but the experts are always very precise, so it could some more days," he said.
Greece is on its third bailout from euro zone governments but to get money it has to pass regular reviews of reforms it agreed to in return for the financing.
The review now under way has been dragging on since the middle of last year. Euro zone finance ministers will discuss the latest progress at a meeting in Malta on Friday.
Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop