ATHENS — Greece bought time in debt crisis negotiations with official creditors on Thursday when it moved to bundle four looming IMF loan payments into one, to be paid by the end of June.
The rare move, permitted by the International Monetary Fund only once before, allowed Athens to avoid a Friday deadline to remit about 300 million euros (US$340 million) to the crisis lender, as it weighs the newest proposal from its IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank creditors.
Negotiations, which went into late hours Wednesday, are aimed at unlocking the final tranche of the current bailout agreement, 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion).
Athens desperately needs the funds to honour debt payments amid fears a debt default could lead to a messy Greek exit from the eurozone.
For days the IMF had dismissed reports that Greece would invoke the "bundling" solution to the looming debt payment – essentially putting it off three weeks.
The announcement of it taking that option came just a few hours after IMF chief Christine Lagarde said she was "confident" Greece would make the 300 million euro remittance on Friday.
"The Greek authorities have informed the (IMF) today that they plan to bundle the country's four June payments into one, which is now due on June 30," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said, citing rules allowing debtor countries to regroup "multiple principal payments falling due in a calendar month". A Greek government source said "we used an option that IMF rules offer us, and which give us additional time for negotiating". — AFP