Wires

ECB can't extend maturity of Greek bonds - Asmussen

BERLIN, Oct 5 (Reuters) - The European Central Bank cannotextend the maturity of Greece's bonds or reduce their interestrates, ECB executive board member Joerg Asmussen told Germantop-selling tabloid Bild, according to an advance copy of anarticle due to appear on Sunday.

"Both things would be a kind of debt relief and wouldtherefore constitute direct financing of the Greek state. TheECB is not legally allowed to do that," he was quoted as saying.

Asmussen told the newspaper it was "not a done deal" thatGreece would get the next tranche of its agreed aid package inNovember and thereby be saved from bankruptcy.

"My clear preference is for Greece to stay in the euro zonebut the key to that is in Athens," Asmussen told the paper.

"The precondition for the payment of the next tranche toGreece is that the hole in its budget for 2013/14 is closed andthat extensive structural reforms are carried out," he added.

Greek leader Antonis Samaras told German paper Handelsblatton Friday his country could not manage beyond November withoutthe next tranche of international aid and suggested the ECBcould help by easing the terms of its Greek debt holdings.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin)

((MichelleHannah.Martin@thomsonreuters.com)(+49 30 2888 5223))

Keywords: EUROZONE ECB/ASMUSSEN