BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A draft statement by euro zone finance ministers on how to handle Greece's finances spoke of "extending" its current bailout deal as a "bridge" to a new package, according to a copy of the draft that was rejected by Athens.
The new Greek government, elected on a mandate to end deeply unpopular international bailout terms, has insisted there can be no "extension" once that deal expires at the end of the month. But EU partners fear financial chaos without such an accord.
A draft of the planned Eurogroup statement, seen by Reuters, read: "Today the Eurogroup took stock of the current situation in Greece and the state of the current adjustment programme. In this context, the Eurogroup has engaged in an intensive dialogue with the new Greek authorities.
"The Greek authorities have expressed their commitment to a broader and stronger reform process aimed at durably improving growth prospects. At the same time, the Greek authorities reiterated their unequivocal commitment to the financial obligations to all their creditors.
"On this basis, we will now start technical work on the further assessment of Greece's reform plans. The Greek authorities have agreed to work closely and constructively with the institutions to explore the possibilities for extending and successfully concluding the present programme taking into account the new government's plans. If this is successful this will bridge the time for the Greek authorities and the Eurogroup to work on possible new contractual arrangements. We will continue our discussions at our next meeting on Monday 16 February."
Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Alastair Macdonald