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Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Thursday said Greece had "fully accepted" that the International Monetary Fund take a role in its third bailout programme despite Athens earlier saying the fund is no longer needed.
"(Finance Minister Euclid) Tsakalotos confirmed to me that the Greek government accepts that the IMF needs to be part of the process," said Dijsselbloem, who is also Dutch finance minister, as he arrived for talks with his eurozone counterparts.
"It was absolutely clear to him, it was part of the agreement this summer," he said, referring to Greece’s 86 billion euro (USD 92 billion) rescue programme.
Greece’s leftist Syriza government in July signed a third debt rescue programme after the country looked to be on the brink of crashing out of the eurozone.
The Washington-based IMF teamed up with the EU on Greece’s first two bailouts in 2010 and 2012, but held back from the latest one citing insufficient reform pledges from Athens and European reluctance on restructuring the country’s huge debt pile.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in December that funding from the institution, known for its hard line, was not necessary and that IMF expertise was also no longer needed.
But powerful Germany, where the public is largely critical of the idea of sending more funds to Greece, has said the IMF must be involved in any bailout.
The EU’s economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici earlier on yesterday called on Athens "not to play games" on the IMF question.
Officials from Greece’s creditors — the European Commission, European Central Bank, IMF and the ESM European bailout fund — will return to Athens on January 18 to monitor adherence to the programme.