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EU's Tusk urges Eurogroup to set date for Greece talks within days

European Council President Donald Tusk addresses the European Parliament during a debate on the conclusions of last March 17 and 18 European Council meeting and the outcome of the EU-Turkey summit, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone finance ministers should set a date for a meeting on Greece within days to avoid renewed uncertainty over the country's ability to finance itself, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Wednesday.

Tusk said he had discussed the matter with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who on Tuesday had said he wanted a special summit of euro zone leaders to discuss Greece's third bailout. Tusk chairs EU summits and would be responsible for calling one on Greece.

"I am convinced that there is still more work to be done by the ministers of finance," Tusk told reporters.

Euro zone finance ministers have pencilled in a tentative meeting on Greece for April 28th, but cancelled it after progress in discussions with Athens on reforms, needed in exchange for new loans, proved to be insufficient.

International lenders asked Greece last Friday to prepare a package of additional savings measures which would be passed into law now but implemented only if needed, to make sure the country reaches agreed fiscal targets.

Without the contingency package, lenders refuse to disburse new loans or discuss debt relief for Greece. Without new loans, Athens will be forced to go into arrears with domestic payments.

Greece also faces a total of about 5 billion euros in debt repayments until the middle of July.

"We have to avoid a situation of renewed uncertainty for Greece. Therefore we need a specific date for the new Eurogroup meeting in the not-distant future, and I am not talking about weeks but about days," Tusk said.

He said he had consulted closely on Greece with the head of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, and the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.


(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Gareth Jones)