BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Talks with Greece on a third bailout are moving ahead in a satisfactory way and reaching an agreement is possible before August 20, the European Commission said on Thursday.
The Commission comments were in response to remarks by a German government official in the Bild daily, that reaching a deal by Aug 20, when Greece has to buy back 3.5 billion euros of its bonds from the European Central Bank, was "not achievable".
"What President Juncker himself said yesterday in an interview remains valid that the negotiations with the Greek authorities are 'progressing in a satisfactory way', that he believes 'an agreement this month preferably before August 20 is possible' because, as you know, August 20 is the date for an important payment to the ECB," Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said.
"We believe that this is an ambitious and yet possible timetable," she told a daily news briefing in response to a question about the Bild story.
She said that since the negotiations with Athens were conducted by the Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Stability Mechanism, they were better placed to assess progress than government officials.
"In line with the ESM treaty and also based on a mandate given by member states the talks and an assessment of progress are being done by the Commission together with the IMF as well as the ESM in this case. Our teams are on the ground now since almost two weeks and they report satisfactory progress," she said.
She said EU deputy finance ministers would discuss the state of talks in a teleconference on Friday evening.
(Reporting By Barbara Lewis and Jan Strupczewski)