New Greece reform plan to stay in euro; cheers France, Italy

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Athens, Jul 10: Fresh Greek reform proposals submitted to eurozone partners were cheered by France and Italy on Friday, raising hopes that a last-ditch compromise could be reached to prevent a dreaded "Grexit".

The plan handed to eurozone partners by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's administration just two hours before a midnight deadline will be submitted to lawmakers in Greece for a vote.

greece

The heads of the EU, IMF and European Central Bank were also to discuss the package later today before a critical meeting of eurozone finance minister tomorrow.

Tsipras has conceded ground on major sticking points including tax and pensions, drawing encouragement from France and Italy - and a terse, neutral response from the normally hardline Germany.

A make-or-break summit bringing together leaders of all 28 EU nations, not just the 19 that use the euro, is scheduled for today, but might not be needed if an agreement is reached beforehand.

Eurozone countries must decide whether to accept Greece's reform plan in exchange for another huge bailout - its third in five years - amounting to tens of billions of euros, or force a "Grexit" from the eurozone.

"We have to make a major decision. Whichever way," said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers.

He said the plan was being evaluated. In a bid to head off a possible challenge to the measures within his hard-left party Syriza, Tsipras urged his lawmakers "to stand united and firm in front of these important decisions."

French President Francois Hollande, one of Tsipras's biggest allies in Europe, said: "The Greeks have shown a determination to want to stay in the eurozone because the programme they are presenting is serious and credible."

He added however that "nothing is decided yet" and a new bailout package - essential if Greece is to stay in the eurozone and avoid financial meltdown - needs to be approved unanimously by eurozone members.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi declared himself "more optimistic" that a deal would be done, while Germany said the outcome of crisis talks this weekend was "completely open".

The Greek offer, set out in a 13-page document, concedes to Greece's paymasters on several key points that Tsipras's ruling coalition - and the Greek voters, in a referendum last weekend - had previously fiercely opposed.

AFP

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