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Greece resumes talks with its creditors

Greece resumes talks with its creditors
Workers at country's General Mining and Metallurgical Company shout anti government slogans during a protest against austerity measures that threaten their jobs in central Athens on Tuesday Sept. 10, 2013.(AP Photo/D(AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)
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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece resumed talks with its creditors to review progress in stabilizing the indebted country's finances.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras met for more than four hours Sunday with representatives of the so-called troika of creditors — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. At stake is the continuation of the financing of Greece by the creditors, including a €1 billion ($1.35 billion) bailout installment to be paid in October.

In order to get this aid, Greece must finalize plans for the restructuring of three defense-related industries, which the EU wants liquidated; complete furloughs of around 12,500 civil servants by the end of September; pay back state debt to two major state-owned water companies that will later be privatized; and reform the lawyers' professional practice code, notably removing a requirement for a lawyer to be involved in the drawing up of contracts.

This latter change was approved by parliament earlier this week, but the other three items are still pending.

The government faces intense opposition by public unions on the issue of furloughs. Public school teachers will strike Monday and Tuesday, having rejected by a small margin a proposal for a five-day strike; municipal employees will also strike Monday and Tuesday.

The public sector union umbrella union, ADEDY, has called for all its members to strike Tuesday and Wednesday, while the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), which represents private sector employees, has called for a general strike Tuesday.

Talks with the troika will continue throughout next week and are then expected to resume in mid-October. Talks later this year are expected to focus on the possibility of securing better terms on Greece's loans by forgiving part of the debt, providing new loans on better terms or a combination of both. Greece hopes that after Sunday's election, the new German government will relax its firm opposition to forgiving part of the debt.
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