Eurogroup must decide Greek debt deal today – France

BRUSSELS, Belgium – French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said a meeting of his eurozone peers Friday, August 14, had to make up its mind about approving a third debt bailout for Greece.

"If there is a need for details to be clarified, if we need to discuss the process, then let us discuss that but we are here today above all to decide on implementing the third programme," Sapin said as he arrived for the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels of all 19 eurozone finance ministers.

Germany, which has reservations about okaying the debt accord, has suggested just giving Greece a bridging loan to allow it to repay debt falling due August 20 to the European Central Bank, an option Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras says will only prolong the crisis.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble especially has taken a very hard line over the latest bailout and made clear he will raise several questions about its feasibility at Friday's meeting.

France in contrast has been much more conciliatory and Sapin hailed Athens efforts to come to an agreement on a rescue worth 85 billion euros ($95 billion) in exchange for far-reaching economic reforms and austerity measures.

"The Greek government has taken its responsibilities," he said.

Asked about whether the finance ministers would offer some relief on Greece's huge debt mountain of some 320 billion euros, Sapin said the eurozone had to stick first to the bailout timetable agreed.

"And in our calendar, that comes in October when we can discuss, as is indispensible, restructuring the debt so that it is sustainable, acceptable, so that it allows the Greek economy room to breath," he said.

The International Monetary Fund has made clear it believes Greece must get some debt relief if the government is ever to have hope of getting the economy back on its feet.

Germany has made clear it objects to any outright cut in the debt but may listen to ideas on restructuring, such as extending maturities, to ease the burden on Athens. –