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Eurozone leader says no more talks with Greece before Sunday vote

By Andrew V. Pestano and Doug G. Ware
Eurozone leader says no more talks with Greece before Sunday vote
A European Union official said Wednesday that there will be no more talks with Greece before the nation holds a referendum vote on Sunday to determine whether Athens should accept the terms of a bailout offer, which expired June 30. Photo: UPI/Shutterstock / canadastock

ATHENS, Greece, July 1 (UPI) -- The Eurozone has had enough of talks with Greece -- for the rest of the week, anyway.

Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters late Wednesday that his group is not interested in continuing discussions with Athens at any time before Greece's Sunday referendum -- in which voters will decide whether to accept creditors' financial terms in exchange for bailout funds.

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"There will be no talks in the coming days," he said. "We will simply await now the outcome of the referendum on Sunday."

The Eurogroup is a meeting of the finance ministers of the euro-using nations of the European Union.

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Tuesday, Greece became the first developed nation in history to default on a loan from the International Monetary Fund -- which previously loaned Athens more than $7 billion to help manage the Greek government's debt.

The country has a public debt of $361 billion from previous loans keeping the country afloat for the past five years. The last nation to default on an IMF loan was Zimbabwe in 2001.

For weeks leading up to the June 30 deadline, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras repeatedly rejected creditors' terms that would have enabled Greece to access the remainder of the $7 billion in relief aid and make the $1.7 billion payment.

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Specifically, creditors wanted Greece to cut government spending to nurture economic growth, but Tsipras rejected the demands because he feels a reduction in spending will take money from workers' wages and pensions.

Tsipras has recommended Greek citizens to vote 'no' on the terms of the bailout.

"I want you to answer 'no' ... to open a new bright page in our history," Tsipras said in a televised address Wednesday.

However, even if the country votes 'yes,' analysts say it might be too late -- as the terms of the bailout offer expired with Tuesday's deadline. Greece may also face expulsion from the euro.

"There are those who insist on linking the result of the referendum with the country's future in the euro," Tsipras said. "They even say I have a so-called 'secret plan' to take the country out of the European Union if the vote is 'no.' They are lying with the full knowledge of that fact."

In a letter to creditors earlier Wednesday, Tsipras wrote that he agreed to a deal that he had rejected over the weekend with two changes: that value-added tax discounts to Greek islands remain, and that the process of raising the retirement age to 67 by 2022 begins not immediately, but in October, according to the Financial Times.

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