More time possible if Greece delivers reforms: France

France's finance minister and the IMF both indicated Thursday that Greece could be given some breathing space implementing its austerity programme, provided it pushed through promised cuts.

France's Pierre Moscovici offered the possibility of some flexibility in comments to reporters after meeting Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and key ministers.

"There is a precondition... that the demanded efforts are carried out effectively," he said, adding that reform determination was "essential."

"After this, all dimensions that could concern Greece's case should be open," he added.

And from Washington, the International Monetary Fund, which is part of the so-called 'troika' of Greek creditors also appeared willing to make concessions.

"There are good arguments to extend the period for Greece to implement its fiscal adjustment," said IMF spokesman Gerry Rice.

"We said such an extension would be dependent on the ability of financing," Rice said.

Greece has been seeking more time to apply austerity reforms tied to rescue loans and France is believed to support their case, which is due to be discussed at a European Union summit on October 18 and 19.

EU leaders are insisting that Greece must make further public sector cutbacks totalling 11.5 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in 2013 and 2014.

They want to see concrete progress with promised structural reforms such as privatisations, which have been slow to emerge.

"It is of paramount importance that the Greek government now delivers the reforms that it has committed to implement," Moscovici said in an interview with Kathimerini newspaper published earlier on Thursday.

Referring to the French position, he said: "We want to help, but this is only possible if Greece convinces its European partners not only that there is a will, but that decisions are also made and implemented".

Moscovici did not rule out a possibility that the European Central Bank might restructure the Greek bonds it holds, though he stressed that the ECB was independent.

The write-down line is one approach being discussed at eurozone level to help Greece catch up on delays in its commitments to restructure its economy in return for rescue funds and get a sustainable grip on its debt obligations.

"It is not up to us to prescribe what it should do," Moscovici said.

"But I fully share Mario Draghi's assessment that the integrity of the euro area is part of the mandate of the ECB and that it will take whatever measures are necessary to preserve it," he added.

"This is a commitment that the whole euro area has taken."

Moscovici also insisted that French banks had no intention of pulling out of the country altogether, despite pending moves by Credit Agricole and Societe Generale to offload their respective Greek subsidiaries.

"The French banking sector will remain involved in the Greek banking sector," he said.


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