IMF's Lagarde says 'no period of grace' for Greek debt payment

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde at an euro zone finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg on June 18, 2015.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde at an euro zone finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg on June 18, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

LUXEMBOURG (AFP) - International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde warned cash-strapped Greece Thursday it will get no extra time to make a huge debt payment due at the end of the month.

"There will be no period of grace," Ms Lagarde told reporters in Luxembourg where eurozone finance ministers are meeting when asked about the huge 1.6-billion-euro debt payment.

"I have a term of June 30. If it's not paid by July 1, it's not paid," she said, adding: "No delay of one month or two as I heard; it's due June 30."

Greece had already bought itself time by bundling four looming IMF loan payments into one to be paid by the last day of June, becoming the first country to use such a possibility since Zambia in the 1980s.

Ms Lagarde's refusal to consider an extension adds to the pressure on Greece's radical left government as its creditors are refusing to dole out the last tranche of its international bailout, which also expires on June 30.

The IMF chief said the lender was "fully ready to discuss" the pension system, which Greece says is a red line in its war with its creditors over their demands for painful reforms, adding that smaller pensions "must be preserved".