Greece In Tough Talks On Bond Swap

Published January 13, 2012 12:45PM (EST)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's government was locked in a second day of tough negotiations Friday with private bondholders on a crucial debt relief deal, with global banking representatives warning that time for reaching an agreement is running out.

The private debt deal is a key part of Greece's second international bailout, worth a total euro130 billion ($166 billion), without which the country could suffer a catastrophic bankruptcy that would send shockwaves through the global economy. The bailout tops a euro110 billion program agreed in May 2010 to keep the country solvent after its borrowing costs soared to untenable heights.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos were meeting Charles Dallara and Jean Lemierre of global banking body the Institute of International Finance to discuss the deal, a day after finance ministry officials from the eurozone met in Brussels.

While a senior Greek finance ministry official was cautiously optimistic Thursday night and said a deal could be struck by the end of next week, it appeared key difficulties remained unresolved.

A person close to the talks said Friday afternoon that the negotiations were "very, very tense."

Both spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss highly sensitive negotiations.

Greece is rushing to reach a deal on the bond swap that would reduce its debt by euro100 billion ($127 billion) — roughly half its privately held debt burden — ahead of a major euro14.5 billion bond redemption in late March. Without the deal, and funding from its second bailout, the country faces a messy default.

By Salon Staff

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