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It's a deal: Greece and Eurozone ministers agree on bailout extension

It is reportedly in the region of four months.

Image: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

Updated 10.15pm
GREECE AND ITS creditors in the 19-country eurozone have reached an agreement on the country’s request to extend its bailout.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the eurozone’s top official, says a deal has been agreed that will extend Greece’s loans for another four months.

The 19 single currency finance ministers reached the hard-won deal to end a standoff pitting Greece against an angry Germany, suspicious that the radical leftist government in Athens was looking to ditch its austerity obligations.

“The meeting was intense because it was about building trust between us,” said Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem, after the talks ended with a two page statement setting out the tough conditions Athens will have to fulfil.

In exchange for the four-month extension, Greece agreed it would submit a list of economic and other reforms by Monday which its eurozone partners will then review to see if they go far enough.

On Tuesday, they will report back to Greece and decide whether to proceed with Friday’s agreement.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said the deal would mark a new era for Athens and its relationship with the European Union.

“Today was a pivotal moment because Greece for five years now has been lonely, isolated in the Eurogroup. Today that isolation has broken,” Varoufakis said.

Markets reacted positively to the deal, with the Dow and S&P 500 surging to fresh records on Wall Street.

The effort to agree a deal torpedoed two earlier Eurogroup meetings, with deep divisions emerging between Greece and its eurozone partners over the conditions of extending the bailout.

Greece formally requested a six-month loan extension on Thursday, offering concessions including a return — if not in name — of the hated “troika” of creditors that had audited the Greek economy in the last years during the bailout.

“Four months is the appropriate delay in terms of financing and future challenges,” Dijsselbloem said.

Dijsselbloem worked overtime to get the make-or-break deal as Germany insisted Greece stick with the austerity commitments included in its bailout programme.

The fraught discussions focused on a new package of concessions beyond those contained in the Greek request submitted Thursday.

Read: Germany says ‘nein’ to Greece

Read: Can Michael Noonan help save the eurozone from economic disaster?

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