Berlin says Greek request a 'starting point' for more talks
BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
The Greek, left, and EU flag flap in the wind outside the Greek embassy in Brussels on Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. AP PhotoThe German government appeared to open the door to a last-minute deal between Athens and its creditors, saying Friday that Greece's request for a loan extension from its eurozone partners provided "a starting point" for more talks.
"From the German government's point of view, (the request) is still not sufficient," said Christiane Wirtz, spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel. But "it certainly offers a starting point for further talks."
The previously fierce stand-off between Germany and Greece over the terms of any loan extension has raised the spectre of a possible "Grexit" or Greek exit from the single currency.
Just a day earlier, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had categorically rejected Athens' request for an extension without any austerity conditions.
But by Thursday evening, Berlin appeared to have softened its stance slightly when Economy Minister and Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, had said the request, which had been addressed to the head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, provided a "starting point" for further discussion.
"Of course we are working on a solution," Merkel's spokeswoman Wirtz told a regular government news briefing on Friday when pressed about Schaeuble's comments.
"In substance, there are still a great many issues which need to be cleared up. The problem is not what is in the request, but not in it," said a spokeswoman for the finance ministry, speaking at the same news conference.