Antonis Samaras, the Greek prime minister, is meeting international creditors in order to persuade them that Athens deserves its final installment of bailout money.
Antonis Samaras, whose conservative-led coalition came to power just over a month ago, is under intense pressure to implement and expand on his predecessors' reform pledges.
The key measure demanded by EU-IMF lenders, whose auditors are again in Athens to inspect government books, now includes 11.6 billion euros ($14.3bn) in new spending cuts, which is certain to face stiff resistance by Greeks.
The Greek leader is expected to outline new cost-cutting reforms in order to get the next tranche of $38bn bailout money without which the debt-ridden country would default, and ultimately exit eurozone.
The troubled EU member has been surviving on international bailouts since May 2010.
But the financial lifeline came at a cost for the common Greeks, as the government was forced to implement a host of austerity measures ranging from deep unpopular spending cuts to slashing in incomes and salaries, while hiking taxes.
The meeting in Athens on Friday comes a day after EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso urged Samaras to "deliver, deliver, deliver" on the promises.
"All heads of states and governments of the euro area have stated in the clearest possible terms that Greece will stay in the euro as long as commitments made are honoured," Barroso said.
Samaras said on Thursday that the government would do all it could to get Greece back on track.
European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank officials, who started a new scrutiny of Greece's austerity programme this week, met on Thursday with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.
A senior ministry official said that Athens insisted on the need for a more generous deadlines to implement the measures. "We always raise the question of an extension, and did so today, too,'' said the official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.
The international inspectors will return to Athens in September to make a final decision on whether to disburse the latest tranche of bailout money.
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|William A. Cook|