Greece edged closer on Friday to winning a new rescue package worth 130 billion euros ($170 billion) as officials said Germany was optimistic a deal could be struck despite misgivings over whether Athens would stick to commitments.
Before a crunch meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Monday, caretaker Prime Minister Lucas Papademos talked to fellow euro zone leaders to persuade Berlin and others to back bailout measures needed to stave off bankruptcy.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italy's Mario Monti and Papademos all expressed optimism over an accord during a three-way conference call, Monti's office said in a statement.
The Greek premier also spoke to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and state television said he would pursue talks with euro zone partners to create a positive mood in view of Monday's meeting and to dispel doubts that could thwart this agreement.
A brief message by Rutte on his Twitter account noted simply of the phone call with Papademos: I have pointed out to him that the Greek people should comply with all demands to get a new programme.
Mutual accusations of brinkmanship between Athens and other euro capitals have soured the atmosphere and strained ties within the single currency union as it faces its toughest challenge since euro notes and coins were introduced in 2002.
Negotiations were put back on track on Thursday when Athens set out the remaining cuts in a 3.3-billion-euro austerity package whose passage through parliament triggered rioting and looting through central Athens last Sunday.
But there are still question marks over whether Greece has done enough to ease the crisis and bring its debt mountain down from 160 percent of national output to the still daunting 120 percent by 2020 agreed with partners and lenders last year.
The scepticism is especially strong among the AAA states over whether Greece will be able to make it, Germany's Der Spiegel magazine quoted Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter as saying of countries with top-notch credit ratings such as Germany, Finland and the Netherlands.
The risk of a Greek insolvency is not off the table.
According to an assessment by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, Greek debt will still be around 129 percent of GDP in 2020 - higher even than the 125 percent that most euro zone states would probably accept.
Officials have previously said a target of 125 percent would be acceptable to most euro zone members but further measures will be required to meet even that goal.
Central bank sources told Reuters the European Central Bank was studying whether to allow Greek bonds held in national euro zone central banks' investment portfolios to be subject to the same writedowns which private investors are due to take.
Euro zone central banks hold around 20 billion euros of Greek bonds in their traditional investment portfolios. If they do take losses on those bonds it would provide an immediate lump sum for Athens and so help it approach the debt reduction goal.
One central bank source said it was 50-50 whether the deal would go ahead as an accompaniment to a debt restructuring offer which Greece will offer to private creditors as part of the wider rescue plan. The swap will mean the real value of bonds held by banks and insurers will fall by about 70 percent.
Other ideas to help Athens meet its long-term debt targets include the euro zone cutting the interest rate on its existing bilateral loans to Greece; increasing the current offer of 130 billion euros of government financing; and asking private investors to agree to bigger losses.
Outstanding issues to be hammered out on Monday include the creation of a ring-fenced escrow account that will be used to pay down Greek debt, and the potentially sensitive issue of how the European Union tightens surveillance of Greek fiscal policy.
Greece needs the funds before 14.5 billion euros of debt repayments fall due on March 20. Yet mistrust is high.
The scenario which we try to achieve is that Greece complies to all necessary measures and to all demands made by the international community in order to have a deal on the total package without a split, Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager told reporters.
Certainly if that would not work we have to think of alternative scenarios, added de Jager, who on Thursday said the Netherlands, Germany and Finland would have vetoed against a bailout deal originally slated for Wednesday - before Athens came out with extra austerity cuts.
World stocks hit a fresh 6-1/2 month peak on Friday and the euro held above recent lows as hopes Greece will seal a long-awaited bailout deal fuelled risk appetite.
Greece could go to the polls as early as April, raising questions as to whether the new government will stick to the austerity terms.
Conservative leader Antonis Samaras - whom polls tip as the next premier - has said he would pursue the plan while reserving the right to modifications if the economy needs them.
The debt talks have been clouded by growing acrimony between Athens and Berlin, with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble likening Greece to a bottomless pit.
Public Order Minister Christos Papoutsis warned on Thursday that the euro zone approach amounted to sheer blackmail.
Earlier, Greece won a public expression of moral support as French Prime Minister Francois Fillon cautioned Europe that it should not play with the default of Greece.
The Greeks have promised very important reforms, he told RTL radio. The Europeans now have to keep their commitments.
Asked if there was a difference of opinion within Germany, Fillon said: There is no divergence with the Chancellor, who absolutely shares our positions, but we hear people sometimes in Germany express difference opinions ... within the German government.
Greek anger has shifted in recent days from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Schaeuble, who in Greek eyes appears to have strayed from economic matters into the political, and even electoral process.
(Additional reporting by Berlin, Frankfurt and Brussels bureaux; Writing by Mark John, editing by Mike Peacock)