Eurozone, Greece dig in as key bailout talks start

FILE – In this Friday Feb. 6, 2015 file photo, Greek Minister Alexis Tsipras, right, and his Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis look on during the vote for the president of Greece’s parliament in Athens. Barely 10 days after radical left-wing Syriza was swept to power in Athens, analysts expect a compromise over Greece’s debts to emerge, allowing it to remain a member of the 19-country eurozone. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Greece’s new government is set to clash with its eurozone creditors at an emergency meeting in Brussels over its request to ease the terms of its bailout program.

Wednesday’s gathering of finance ministers from the 19 eurozone countries was called to find common ground on Greece’s demand to reduce the burden of its bailout loans and ease back on budget austerity measures.

The new radical left government won elections last month on a promise to get concessions from Greece’s creditors, which also include the International Monetary Fund.

On the eve of the meeting, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said there is “no way back” for his government in its quest to rewrite the bailout terms.

It’s an uphill battle, however, as the biggest and most influential creditor, Germany, has taken a hard line on the talks.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said there was no chance of reaching a final deal on a new aid program for Greece at Wednesday’s meeting.

Investors have been hoping that behind the public posturing, the eurozone politicians are willing to find a compromise deal that will help Greece repay its debts and keep it within in the eurozone, but also keep it on track in reforming its economy.

Markets have been volatile over the past two weeks amid the uncertainty over a deal. After big gains on Tuesday, markets were down on Wednesday. The main stock index in Athens was 3 percent lower.

Meanwhile, the Greek government sold 13-week Treasury bills at a significantly higher interest rate than at a similar sale last month. The higher rate indicates investors are more worried about Greece not repaying its debts.

Greece raised 1.13 billion euros at a rate of 2.5 percent, up from 2.15 percent at the last such auction on Jan. 14.

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