BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greek negotiators will meet officials of the troika of EU, ECB and IMF soon, most likely in Brussels on Friday, to prepare Monday’s key Eurogroup meeting on debt talks, an EU official said on Thursday, raising hopes of a possible deal.
“This will be a technical assessment of where there is common ground between the current program and the Greek government’s program,” a spokeswoman for Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters.
Another EU official said this was welcome news after euro zone finance ministers failed to agree overnight on how to move forward with tough negotiations ahead of a Feb. 28 deadline when the present Greek financial bailout program expires.
“This is a step beyond from where we were yesterday,” the official said. “It sets a goal of an agreement by Monday.”
A third EU official said: “Seen from where we were yesterday, this is quite a success.”
EU officials said Dijsselbloem and Alexis Tsipras agreed not to issue a formal written statement on the move but to have spokesmen use the following common phrasing to describe it:
“Prime Minister Tsipras and Eurogroup president Dijsselbloem agreed today to ask the institutions to engage with the Greek authorities to start work on a technical assessment of the common ground between the current program and the Greek government’s plans, in order to facilitate the discussions in the Eurogroup on Monday, Feb. 16.”
A Greek official said the technical discussions would not be with the “troika” - the combination of EU, ECB and IMF that has become a lightning rod for Greek public anger at the bailout terms - but with officials of the Eurogroup.
EU officials, however, said the reference to “the institutions” clearly included all three and noted that officials from the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund regularly take part in Eurogroup discussions.
Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander and Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Alastair Macdonald