Greece close to sealing cuts package

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Greece has inched closer to nailing down the cuts required by its foreign creditors in exchange for financial aid, agreeing 10.8 billion of the 11.5 billion euros worth of cuts demanded, a government official said on Friday.

Finalising the 11.5 billion euros in savings due in 2013-15 is key to a positive review from its lenders, due in Athens next month for a final verdict on whether they will keep funds flowing to the austerity-bound country.

“We're on a good path. Measures worth 10.8 billion euros have been identified,” a finance ministry official told Reuters after a meeting of government officials late on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official did not elaborate on where the cuts would come from and said talks to finalise the package would continue on Monday.

The Conservative-led coalition has broadly agreed on the measures but has been scrambling to specify the savings, expected mainly from state salaries and pensions, and up to 40,000 public sector layoffs.

The measures have to be approved by Greece's three ruling parties and then by the troika of European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank officials.

Twice bailed-out Greece is dependent on a second, 130-billion-euro rescue deal agreed in March to give it the funds to keep paying public sector wages, pensions and bills.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will next week hold his first meetings with European leaders since taking office, striving to assure them Athens will keep its pledges for more austerity.

He is also expected to raise a long-standing proposal that the measures be spread over four instead of two years to soften their impact on a Greek populace enduring the country's worst downturn since World War Two. - Reuters

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