ATHENS, Greece — A crucial meeting between Greece's Prime Minister and debt inspectors on averting default and a possible exit from the euro ended early Thursday with no definite results.
As he left the meeting, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the main point of contention — cuts in pensions — has not been resolved. He made a dramatic plea to the leaders of the political parties backing Greece's coalition government to reach an agreement before a meeting later Thursday of finance ministers from nations that use the euro.
Venizelos said Greece's "survival over the coming years" depends on the new program of financial aid and the completion of a debt swap agreement with private creditors that would slash Greece's debt load.
"It will determine whether the country remains in the eurozone or whether its place in Europe will be endangered," he said.
"There is no room for any other expediency: we must look Greeks in the eye, look at the national interest and the interest of our children."
Representatives of the so-called 'troika' of Greece's creditors — the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — arrived after midnight Wednesday to negotiate with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, Venizelos and Labor Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis over the main point of contention: the troika's demand for substantial cuts in supplementary pensions.
The issue that has threatened to derail the talks concerns cuts of about €300 million that must be made so Greece can reach its fiscal targets for 2012. At stake is a €130 billion bailout that will stave off Greece's bankruptcy.1 comment on this story
Venizelos will be leaving for Brussels at 7 a.m. local (0500 GMT). The eurozone finance ministers are scheduled to meet at 1700 GMT.
No time has been yet set for a meeting of Papademos with the three political leaders — socialist George Papandreou, conservative Antonis Samaras and right-wing populist George Karatzaferis. It is the latter two who have raised the most objections over the pension cuts.
On Wednesday, Papademos and the three political leaders had met for seven and a half hours and had accepted all the other demands of the troika, including a 22 percent cut in the minimum wage and firings of civil servants.