Greek austerity talks - no agreement

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AP

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Talks between Greece Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partners on the near-bankrupt country's new austerity programme concluded Wednesday without agreement.

“There are one or two marginal issues that still need to be discussed. It's all about technical stuff,” Finance Minister Ioannis Stournaras said on television following the meeting.

Ioannis said the austerity programme could be approved by the parties “next week.”

Samaras met with the Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos and leader of the Democratic Left, Fotis Kouvelis, for two hours to discuss the spending cuts required in order for Greece to receive fresh rescue loans.

“We will meet again,” Fotis said afterwards.

The cuts would amount to 11.5 billion euros (14.4 billion dollars) - the amount Greece's lenders are demanding in order to qualify for a second installment of bailout funds.

“The devil is in the detail and that's what they're talking about today,” a member of the Democratic Left, the smallest coalition partner, told dpa prior to the meeting.

The Socialists and the Democratic Left oppose cuts to the wages and pensions of low income earners as part of the austerity drive. Also contentious are cuts that would affect diplomats, air force pilots and police.

Once the government agrees to the programme, approval would still be needed from Greece's international creditors - the European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund - for it to take effect.

Inspectors from the so-called troika are due in Athens on September 5 to begin assessing the country's progress in reforming its state finances. -Sapa-dpa


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