Greece and its creditors need to quickly agree on a broad deal to address the Greek debt crisis and then work out the details before Athens hits deadlines for repayments, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Friday.
Lew, speaking to reporters after a meeting of policymakers from the Group of Seven (G-7) economies, said a speedy deal would reduce the chances of an "accident" and he wanted to see a pragmatic outcome to the protracted crisis.
Greece and its creditors from the euro zone countries and the International Monetary Fund are trying to hammer out a cash-for-reforms deal that would prevent the country from defaulting on its debt and potentially leaving the euro zone. Greece faces a deadline for payment of IMF debts next week.
Lew said the two sides had not spent their time productively since January, adding that it would be a good idea if the various deadlines laid down for Greece were taken seriously.
"Once you reach a general agreement, you still have a lot of work to do ahead of you. So it would be in the best interests of all parties to reach an understanding at a general level and leave some time to work through some detail before whatever the next deadline after is," said Lew.
"I think waiting until the day or two before whatever the deadline is, is just a way of courting an accident."
The G-7 agreed broadly that Greece needs to make some very tough decisions, he told reporters.
"They need to implement policies that will be difficult in Greece. But they need to show with clarity the steps that they are prepared to take," Lew said.