Greece awaits rescue package, protesters decry cuts

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece hopes to secure a deal with  the European Union and the IMF for a multi-billion euro  financial bailout to be announced today, a day after  thousands protested in Athens against planned state cutbacks.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is to hold a  televised cabinet meeting at 0630 GMT which is expected to  confirm a deal has been reached, a government official said yesterday.

The EU plans to give its go-ahead to the aid — which will  come in return for tough austerity measures in Greece — at a  meeting of euro zone finance ministers at 1400 GMT in Brussels.

Greece and its international backers hope the deal, which  could reach up to 120 billion euros ($159.8 billion), will help  stem a crisis that has hit the euro and shaken markets  worldwide.

Greek, European and IMF officials remained tight-lipped late  on Saturday and declined to say whether a deal on the terms of  the package had been reached in talks in Athens.

The Greek government official had said earlier in the day  that the debt-choked country expected the talks to be concluded  some time on Saturday, adding that this morning’s cabinet  meeting was meant to confirm the deal.

“The cabinet meeting will confirm the deal and after that  the Finance Minister (George Papaconstantinou) will announce the  deal in a press conference. He will then fly to participate in  the Eurogroup,” the government official had told Reuters,  referring to the Brussels meeting.

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