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Greek debt talks held up over pension cuts

Crucial talks on Greece's bailout broke up after a seven-hour meeting.

Clone of Greeks talk 1Enlarge
Greek Prime Minister Papademos and leaders of Greece's main political parties before their meeting February 8, 2012 in Athens, Greece. (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Talks aimed at approving a bailout package for Greece were held up early Thursday after leaders of the three parties backing the country's coalition government failed to agree to creditors' demands on pension cuts, the New York Times reported.

Creditors are demanding the Greek government make $398.22 million cuts to state and private pensions, tough austerity measures that would impact Greece's workers.

The talks broke up after a seven-hour meeting on the $172.56 billion bailout package.

"There was very broad agreement on all parts of the program, with one exception, which requires further elaboration and discussion," Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said in a statement.

Papademos was eluding to discussions with the so-called troika - the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The Prime Minister said he wanted to reach an agreement before euro zone finance ministers meet in Brussels later on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Greece needs to reach a deal to avoid a March default. This is Greece's second bailout since 2010.

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It was unclear whether the Greek coalition leaders — Socialist George Papandreou, conservative Antonis Samaras and LAOS leader George Karatzaferis — would meet overnight to resolve the dispute. All three went home after the talks ended, according to the New York Times.

"At 2 a.m., all I can say, is a line from the Beatles: 'It is a hard day's night,'" Karatzaferis told reporters.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120208/greek-debt-talks-held-over-pension-cuts