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Eurozone heading for deal on new bailout

EUROZONE chiefs moved today towards closing a deal for a massive new bailout of Greece as leaders negotiated with banks on the key write-down of Athens’ massive debt.

After months of acrimonious debate, markets rose as all sides expressed confidence that an agreement would be found to greenlight a €230 billion euro ($283 billion) financial lifeline, in exchange for strict surveillance of the Athens Government over coming years.

That despite grinding negotiations with private creditors on the sidelines of talks among finance ministers in Brussels, principally over a €5.5 billion gap needing to be filled if Germany and the Netherlands especially are to get the agreement past their national parliaments.

Greece’s Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and Finance Minister Evengelos Venizelos took turns scuttling in and out of talks with the representatives of the banks, officials said.

A mini-breakthrough was reached just after midnight (10am AEDT) when national eurozone central banks agreed to engage in their own write-down of Greek bonds.

“There’s a long way to go yet, but we wouldn’t still be in there if we didn’t think we would get there tonight,” said one eurozone governmental source.

Greece, Germany, the IMF and the head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, each maintained that a deal could be reached during the closed-door talks.

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