EU urges early deal on Greece debt

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Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker early Tuesday called for an early conclusion of a deal on Greece's debt restructuring program without delay.

"We welcome the increased convergence and ask the Greek government to reach in the next few days a common understanding on the main terms and conditions of the PSI (private sector involvement) offer," said Juncker, also prime minister of Luxembourg.

Speaking at a press conference after a meeting of eurozone finance ministers, he said, "in parallel, we call on the Greek government and the (EU-IMF-ECB) troika to agree on the key parameters of an ambitious new adjustment program as soon as possible."

"PSI should secure the decline of the Greek debt-to-GDP ratio with an objective of reaching 120 percent by 2020," Juncker added.

Under an agreement reached by an EU summit in October 2011, private investors including banks and investment firms would accept a 50 percent cut in the face value of more than 200 billion euros (about 260 billion U.S. dollars) of Greek debt by voluntarily exchanging outstanding bonds for new securities.

The PSI negotiations are a key part of a second Greek bailout deal worth 130 billion euros, without which Greece might be on the brink of default as it wouldn't be able to pay 14.5 billion euros of bonds maturing on March 20.

However, negotiations have dragged on for three weeks because of a dispute over the interest rate on the new bonds replacing the old ones.

Juncker also refuted worries about a possible exit by Greece from the single-currency area. He said: "Let me make it crystal clear -- there are absolutely no divergences of view on this matter around the table: for everyone of us the future of Greece is clearly within the euro area."

EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn also painted a rosy picture for the deal. "I am confident that we can conclude the negotiations on the private sector involvement (PSI) shortly - preferably in the course of this week," Rehn told reporters as he arrived for the meeting.


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