Greek PM hopes deal will be reached at Eurogroup meeting

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meets with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire at his office in Maximos Mansion in Athens Greece

Finance ministers from the 19 European countries using the euro currency are meeting in Luxembourg Thursday to decide whether to unfreeze the latest installment of Greece's rescue loans and to discuss potential debt relief measures to be enacted when the bailout program ends next year.

"I am quite optimistic that we will find a common solution but I can not announce the result of our negotiations today before the meeting has started".

The upbeat feeling was shared by Greece's biggest eurozone partners, with Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem saying a compromise good for all sides was on the table.

Before the meeting on Thursdays, the creditors sounded optimistic about reaching a deal, while Greek sources warned that an agreement was hanging in the balance.

Instead, the International Monetary Fund would suggest its board sign off on a 14-month-long bailout for Greece, but only dole out fresh loans once it receives further assurances from the euro area on how debt will be made sustainable.

However, Christine Lagarde, the IMF's managing director, said enough progress had been made at Thursday's meeting for her to go to the executive board to get the stand-by facility, which will be less than $2 billion.Lagarde, the IMF's managing director, said enough progress had been made at Thursday's meeting for her to go to the executive board to get the stand-by facility, which will be less than $2 billion.

And the Greeks, who earned their prior bailouts by promising to cut budgets, trim government payrolls, and make painful economic reforms, are now insisting that they should be rewarded.

They said in their statement that the exact mechanism of how to link debt relief to growth would be worked on as of 2018 by deputy finance ministers and treasury officials and be announced after the bailout ends, together with the whole debt deal.

The IMF has so far refused to join Greece's bailout, its third since 2010, which it says must be the country's last, meaning that in addition to Athens making reforms, the euro zone must offer relief to help make Greece's debts sustainable. Macron wants to work with Germany to strengthen the 18-year-old common currency, which was almost wrecked by the sovereign debt crisis.

A proposal by the French government under new President Emmanuel Macron to help bridge differences on debt relief will underpin further euro zone discussions, officials said. Meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday, they reinforced their commitment to extend Greece relief if needed and offered more specifics on what this could entail.

Euclid Tsakalotos, Greece's finance minister, said he is "confident" about the prospects of a deal later.

But the International Monetary Fund is less optimistic, arguing there must be further relief for Athens before it can label its debt sustainable and justify loaning Greece any more cash.

The expectation is Greece will get the roughly 7 billion euros ($7.8 billion) due, but will struggle to clinch the outlines of a debt relief deal that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras thinks is crucial for the country's economy in the long-term.

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