ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Greek negotiators were exploring the "scope for convergence" with the country's international creditors in Brussels Monday following days of acrimony over rival reform proposals for a deal to unlock Greece's last remaining bailout funds.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek negotiators were exploring the "scope for convergence" with the country's international creditors in Brussels Monday following days of acrimony over rival reform proposals for a deal to unlock Greece's last remaining bailout funds.
Government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis also sought to douse talk of elections, saying it was not something the government was considering. Some ministers had raised the issue as an option if a solution to the protracted bailout talks cannot be found.
Talks between Greece and its creditors have been deadlocked since late last week, when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras rejected as unacceptable a proposal made by the three institutions overseeing his country's bailout — the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Commission.
A solution is needed by June 30, when Greece's bailout program ends and the remaining 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion) in rescue loans will no longer be available. Without the funds, Greece is unlikely to be able to repay its debts and could end up crashing out of Europe's joint currency.
Worries of an imminent Greek debt default and euro exit kept European stock markets in check Monday with the Stoxx 50 index trading 0.5 percent lower. The main stock market in Athens recouped some recent lost ground, trading up 0.5 percent.
Jitters over Greece swelled last week when the government decided to delay a payment due last Friday to the IMF. Instead, it opted to bundle all four IMF repayments due this month into one on June 30. Allowed under IMF rules, the option has been used only once, by Zambia in the 1980s.
Greece and its creditors disagree on a number of issues, such as pensions and labor reforms.
Though Sakellaridis reiterated Greece considers its proposal — a 47-page document delivered by Tsipras during a visit to Brussels last week — to be the basis for a deal, he said there was room for negotiation.
"The Greek negotiating team that has gone to Brussels is evidently there so as to see the scope for convergence so there can be a mutually acceptable solution to both sides," Sakellaridis said.
Tsipras, in an angry speech in Parliament Friday, had described the institutions' proposals as an "unpleasant surprise," saying they ignored progress in negotiations over the past few months.
The rejection sparked the ire of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, whose approach to Greece has been viewed as more lenient than those of the IMF, ECB and Germany, which is the largest single eurozone contributor to Greece's bailout.
"We will continue to work for a solution," commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said in Brussels Monday. "There is a position of the three institutions which is a good basis for finding a solution, provided that all sides concentrate on the remaining issues to be solved."
The current stalemate comes after five months of difficult negotiations since Tsipras' radical left Syriza party won January elections on promises to repeal austerity measures creditors imposed in return for two bailouts worth a total of 240 billion euros ($270 billion.)
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, in Berlin to deliver a speech, met with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble for talks that the Greek minister described as "productive."
"The conversation took place in an extremely friendly manner. We have a common understanding of the problem," Varoufakis said after the meeting.
"And the whole purpose was to try to achieve a commonly designed, planned, agreed solution to the impasse in which we have unfortunately found ourselves over the last few years, actually, to be precise, with this ongoing Greek crisis."
He said he believed the meeting, which he described as "establishing common ground" rather than negotiating, "is going to be very helpful in solidifying the process over the last few days, few weeks before we have a final solution to the ongoing conversations."
Raf Casert in Brussels contributed.