EU, Tsipras say Greek talks must continue as differences persist

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras walks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (left) ahead of a meeting at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on June 3, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras walks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (left) ahead of a meeting at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on June 3, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Bloomberg) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras signaled that disagreements remain with creditors over unlocking aid for the country after the latest round of top-level talks to avert a default.

After a meeting in Brussels with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who also heads the group of his euro-area counterparts, Tsipras said the basis for any agreement must be a Greek proposal meant to avoid more spending cuts and tax rises rather than a plan drafted in recent days by creditors.

"The realistic proposals on the table are the proposals of the Greek government," Tsipras told reporters early Thursday in the Belgian capital. We can't "make the same mistakes, the mistakes of the past," he said.

Weeks of antagonism and missed deadlines have given way to a greater urgency to decide the fate of Greece. The country has four payments due to the International Monetary Fund in June, and its existing bailout also expires this month. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Wednesday called for a "strong agreement" to end the deadlock.

"Ideas like cutting benefits for low-income pensioners, or raising the VAT rate for electricity by 10 percentage points can't be a basis for discussion," Tsipras said after the four- hour-long meeting. "However, there was a constructive will from the European Commission to reach a common understanding," he added, without mentioning Dijsselbloem, who was also in the meeting.