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Eurozone approves Greek bailout accord worth up to 86 bn euros: official

15 august 2015, 12:47

Eurozone finance ministers approved Friday a third debt bailout worth up to 86 billion euros to keep Greece afloat and avoid its chaotic exit from the single currency bloc, officials said, AFP reports.

"New loans of up to 86 billion euros will be made available over the next three years to Greece," the European Commission said after six hours of talks to nail down the tough and far-reaching reforms Athens must implement in return.

Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said that the past six months of negotiations with the left-wing government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had been difficult and testing.

"Together, we have looked into the abyss. But today, I am glad to say that all sides have respected their commitments. Greece is living up to its ambitious reform commitments," Juncker said in a statement.

"The message of today's (meeting) is loud and clear: on this basis, Greece is and will irreversibly remain a member of the euro area," he said.

Officials said a first disbursement for Greece next week could total some 13 billion euros. 

That means Greece will have funds available to cover a debt payment to the European Central Bank due on August 20.

The 19 eurozone finance ministers gave their approval after Greek lawmakers voted through the accord early Friday following a bitter all-night debate on the unprecedented series of tough and wide-ranging reforms which Greece will have to implement.

International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde participated in the eurozone meeting via a teleconference link and was said to have judged the agreement "positively".

Tsipras came to power in January on a wave of popular anger against the austerity demanded by creditors in exchange for two previous bailouts costing 240 billion euros.

Critics say the painful reforms have only undermined rather than help the Greek economy, which emerged from six years of brutal recession in 2014.

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