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'The day is coming that someone says the game is over for Greece'

The IMF has pulled its team out of talks with the cash-strapped nation.

Greek Prime MInister Alexis Tsipras
Greek Prime MInister Alexis Tsipras
Image: Petros Giannakouris/AP/Press Association Images

GREECE’S CREDITORS HAVE piled pressure on cash-strapped Athens as the IMF pulled its team out of talks and the EU warned Athens to stop gambling with the possibility of default and a messy exit from the eurozone.

The International Monetary Fund said an agreement remained far-off after a five-month stalemate with Greece’s anti-austerity government, which faces being unable to pay huge debts at the end of the month.

Eleventh-hour talks in Brussels between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker meanwhile broke up without reaching a deal on reforms in exchange for bailout cash.

“There are still major differences between us in most key areas,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters in Washington.

There has been no progress in narrowing these differences recently. Thus we are well away from an agreement.

The fund said its Greek talks team had returned to Washington from Brussels and that the “ball is very much in Greece’s court right now — although it added that “the IMF never leaves the table and remains engaged”.

It said the key disagreements were on pensions, taxes and financing.

EU president Donald Tusk issued an unprecedented warning to Tsipras, telling the Greek government to stop “gambling” and saying the Eurogroup meeting would be “really crucial” and “decisive”. He told a press conference:

There is no more time for gambling. The day is coming, I am afraid, that someone says the game is over.

The IMF is the most hardline of Greece’s three bailout monitors — the others being the European Commission and European Central Bank — who have demanded tough reforms in exchange for unlocking the remaining €7.2 billionof its €240 billion rescue package.

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Without fresh external funding when the bailout expires on June 30, cash-strapped Greece is set to default on its debts, meaning it could crash out of the eurozone despite benefiting from two international bailouts since 2010.

Athens shares closed with an 8.16-percent leap on Thursday, shortly before the IMF announcement, on investors’ optimism for a deal.

© – AFP 2015

Read: Greece will miss an IMF repayment (but promises to pay before July) >

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