November 8, 2017 / 10:04 AM / a year ago

Greece's Tsipras says debt relief discussion to follow review

ATHENS (Reuters) - Discussions on the long-term sustainability of Greece’s debt are expected to start after the conclusion of a review of reforms by its lenders, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks as he holds a joint news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Tsipras told lawmakers of his leftist Syriza party that discussions with lenders were progressing well. The government has previously said that talks with lenders on the bailout review would be concluded by January.

“Immediately after the conclusion of the third review a discussion is expected to start on the long-term viability of debt, and (Greece will) enter the final stretch for emerging from the bailout,” he told parliamentarians.

A cash-for-reforms bailout program worth up to 86 billion euros is expected to expire in Aug. 2018.

A third review, or round of discussions with creditors on the pace of reforms, launched in October, were being held in an “unusually good climate”, Tsipras said.

Debt relief has become a rallying cry of Tsipras’s administration since he swept to power in 2015, promising to do away with austerity only to agree to a new bailout that year to avert bankruptcy and ejection from the euro zone.

The country has received three international bailouts since 2010 and its debt now stands at 177 percent of economic output.

Euro zone governments have promised to consider debt relief for the nation after its bailout expires and only if needed, and have not made any further commitments.

The euro zone would consider it around Aug. 2018, on the basis of debt sustainability analysis at the time, Klaus Regling, head of the euro zone bailout fund ESM, told Reuters on Nov. 2

Reporting By Lefteris Papadimas and Renee Maltezou, writing by Michele Kambas, Editing by Angus MacSwan

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