German government at odds with itself over Greek debt relief

Eurozone finance ministers, the International Monetary Fund and the Greek government failed to hammer out a final deal on Greece's debt relief and chose to postpone a decision for their next meeting in mid-June. The loans are essential to Athens repaying 7.3 billion euros of loans set to mature in July. But people involved in the talks said the IMF's plan to initially withhold its bailout loans would remove this urgency and allow talks on debt relief after Germany's elections in September.

"I expect, and (am) working on a deal today but it won't be the end deal", Dijsselbloem said.

But some European countries, including Germany, say any debt relief should be considered in 2018, anxious that concessions could affect the pace of economic reforms in Athens.

The IMF believes that debt relief, or at least a clear promise of it now, is needed to restore investor confidence in Greece, especially if the country, which has public debt of 197 percent of GDP, is to return to market financing next year.

Dijsselbloem said the International Monetary Fund welcomes the progress made by Greece, and is "impressed" by the reforms undertaken by Greece and that it stands ready to go to the board to get involved financially.

The question of debt relief has served as a point of contention for months between Berlin and the International Monetary Fund, which does not want to participate in the bailout program unless Greece's debt burden is brought down to manageable levels.

"We indeed did not conclude, but our work will not be wasted", said EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici after the marathon talks.

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The European Commission said in its newest economic forecast for its 28 member states, which was published last week, that delays in reaching a deal on Greece's bailout were only hurting the country's economy more and detracting investors.

He said the finalization of an agreement on Greece would have to wait for a report on whether the country has implemented all the agreed reforms, the so-called compliance report, which euro zone officials said was positive.

"Our country. has fulfilled its obligations totally and on time", Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said on Sunday ahead of the crunch talks, which begin at 1300 GMT.

The meeting will be the first for French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, named to his post last week by newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron, a pro-EU centrist.

A deal would not give certainty that Greece would be included in QE, which remains a decision for the European Central Bank.

Lender institutions and finance ministers from the 19 Eurozone countries agreed to help Greece pay back almost $8 billion it is required to by July.

Macron's office says that he spoke Monday with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and stressed "his determination to find an accord soon to lighten the burden of Greek debt over the long term".

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