Germany eased its objections to debt relief talks for Greece on Monday as eurozone finance ministers sought to narrow their significant differences with the International Monetary Fund over Athens' €86 billion bailout.
With Greece facing €3.5 billion in debt payments in July that it will be unable to meet without support, eurozone ministers said they were ready for a political push to break a stalemate between creditors over austerity measures and Athens' debt burden.
Pier Carlo Padoan, Italy's finance minister, hailed the meeting as "an important step" towards overcoming the impasse and unblocking payments but IMF officials continued to voice skepticism, particularly over how Greece would apply €3 billion in "contingency" budget cuts if it missed fiscal targets.
The political space for a deal was opened on Monday by the readiness of Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's finance minister, to explore ways to ease Greek debt repayments. He had, until then, strongly resisted such talks as unnecessary, putting IMF participation in the program in doubt.
Ministers said they would seek an agreement at a meeting on May 24. The package would require Greece to prepare "contingent" budget cutting measures to be enacted if its public finances failed to sufficiently improve, as well as parallel commitments from eurozone nations to deliver on promises of debt relief, covering the short, medium and long term.