Spotlight: Eurogroup, Greece fail to reach consensus in talks on debt crisis

BRUSSELS. KAZINFORM -- The Eurogroup failed to reach consensus with Greece during a just-ended meeting on the country's debt crisis, but talks will continue next Monday, Xinhua informs.

"We did make progress but not enough to issue joint statement, we reached no joint conclusions, that's why there was no statement. It wasn't about wording, it was about not agreeing," Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the Eurogroup, told a press conference late on Wednesday.

"We did not go into detailed proposals or on details of any program, no common ground achieved," he said. "We simply tried to work on next steps over next couple of days, but failed to agree. We will continue our talks on Monday and move on from there," he added. New Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who attended a Eurogroup meeting for the first time, told reporters following the press conference that he has many different opinions with his European peers and hopes to continue the negotiations and reach a conclusion next Monday. Dijsselbloem said finance ministers also discussed the possibility of extending the current bailout deal with Greece. "That's our preferred option, but we haven't come to the conclusion yet...We need a political conclusion first to start that kind of work," he said. On the contrary, the new Greek government doesn't want an extension of the 240-billion-euro (271-billion-U.S.-dollar) bailout program, which will expire in late February, because the government has promised to Greek voters to end the program and give up the fiscal austerity policy under the bailout. Athens is seeking to replace the bailout with a bridging agreement to cover the country's funding needs until autumn, while the government is negotiating a final deal with creditors on further debt relief. "I am certain that our European partners will respond to our proposals and we will achieve a mutually beneficial compromise," Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said earlier Wednesday. European lenders seem still adamant that Greece should stick to current financial reforms and the drive to improve its fiscal conditions in order to gain further support from the Eurogroup. Dijsselbloem said on his entry into Wednesday's meeting that it's crucial for Greece to continue reforms which have brought the country a primary surplus and economic growth. "I will express my hope that they stick to the reform path. They have returned to growth last year with primary surplus," he stressed.

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