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Eurozone leaders look for written commitment on Greek bailout

BRUSSELS / ATHENS – Greece’s two main political parties have been told they must co-sign a letter pledging support for the country’s bailout terms in order to secure an EUR 8 bln loan needed to stave off default, the head of the 17 eurozone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, said late Monday, according to New York Times.

Though the ministers said they welcomed the deal to form a coalition government in Greece, European officials insisted that political consensus over a tough austerity program was a precondition for payment of the loan. Juncker said the ministers had “underlined the importance of sustained cross-party support for the program in Greece.”

“We have been calling for a coalition of national unity,” added Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs. “It is essential that the new government will express a clear commitment on paper, in writing.”

He added, however, that provided the assurances were forthcoming, the loan to Greece could be disbursed this month. That could be done by teleconference and without a formal meeting of finance ministers, he said.

Meanwhile, yesterday, Greek political leaders were still locked in debate over the formation of a unity government they hope can save the country from imminent bankruptcy, the BBC said.

PM George Papandreou is to stand down once the government is formed but his replacement has not yet been named. An agreement on an interim leader had been expected on Monday but by Tuesday morning, there was still no announcement from the negotiations between Papan­dreou and opposition leader Antonis Samaras (photo), of the New Democracy party.

An emergency cabinet session chaired by Papandreou on Tuesday ended still without an announcement. Papademos, a former vice president of the European Central Bank (ECB), is widely seen as the frontrunner to become interim prime minister, while Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos – for a time considered to be a candidate – is expected to remain at the finance ministry.

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