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Greek envoys in Brussels to try and break bailout stalemate

Associated Press logo Associated Press 4/04/2017 By DEREK GATOPOULOS and RAF CASERT, Associated Press
An elderly man stands in front of police officers, during a protest outside the Labor Ministry in Athens, Tuesday, April 4, 2017. About 3,000 pensioners marched through the Greek capital to protest years of cuts to their pensions under the country's bailout commitments. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis) © The Associated Press An elderly man stands in front of police officers, during a protest outside the Labor Ministry in Athens, Tuesday, April 4, 2017. About 3,000 pensioners marched through the Greek capital to protest years of cuts to their pensions under the country's bailout commitments. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS, Greece — Three Greek cabinet officials have returned to Brussels for emergency meetings on delayed bailout negotiations, officials from Greece's government and the European Union said late Tuesday.

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, deputy George Chouliarakis, and Labor Minister Effie Achtsioglou traveled to the Belgian capital to meet with representatives of bailout lenders ahead of a Friday meeting of Eurozone finance ministers in Malta.

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the current president of the Eurogroup, was expected to be at the meeting, along with EU Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici and other senior officials involved in the Greek bailout, according to the officials.

They asked not to be identified because the meeting was not formally announced.

The bailout talks have been delayed for months, freezing loan installment payouts and hurting chances of a Greek recovery after years of recession and flat growth.

Rescue lenders from Eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund are at odds over the severity of future cuts being demanded of Athens and actions needed to make Greece's massive national debt sustainable.

Speaking in the European Parliament earlier Tuesday, Moscovici urged all sides to reach a compromise quickly.

"All of Greece's partners must now come together to put an end to this uncertainty, which is damaging, and at last create a cycle of virtuous recovery. Greece deserves it," he said.

"But (an agreement) requires a real commitment and a willingness to conclude on behalf of all — and I stress all — the parties involved," Moscovici said. "This requires difficult political choices. We are aware of this, and it is particularly true for Greece."

Greece is being asked to make further long-term pension cuts, to strip job protection regulations for workers and to maintain high budget surpluses for years to help pay off its debts.

The issue is likely to be discussed further Wednesday during a visit to Athens by European Council President Donald Tusk.

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Casert reported from Brussels. Follow Gatopoulos at http://www.twitter.com/dgatopoulos and Casert at http://www.twitter.com/rcasert

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