(Reuters) - Greek coalition leaders agreed to meet next week to hammer out almost 12 billion euros worth of austerity cuts demanded by the near-bankrupt country's lenders after a deal proved elusive at an initial round of talks on Wednesday.
Greek officials have spent the past week scrambling to identify 11.7 billion euros worth of spending cuts for 2013 and 2014 required by the country's latest rescue package before European and IMF officials visit Athens next week.
But a final decision is expected only after much bargaining among the three party leaders in the new conservative-led government, each of whom is keen to avoid appearing in favor of cuts that heap more misery on austerity-weary voters.
After a three-hour meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, his two coalition allies - Socialist party leader Evangelos Venizelos and leftist party chief Fotis Kouvelis - emerged to give the public the message that the government would not impose any new spending cuts this year beyond those already agreed.
We had a very good discussion, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told reporters after the meeting. We agreed on the basic direction.