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Athens seeks $14.2b in spending cuts

ATHENS — Greek finance officials on Monday held new talks on finalizing $14.2 billion in spending cuts necessary for the country to continue receiving the international rescue loans that are protecting it from bankruptcy.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras met with his deputy ministers and Labor Minister Yannis Vroutsis to hammer out the measures for 2013 and 2014, ahead of a series of meetings between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and top European officials later this week.

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Stournaras said the entire package will be ready roughly within the next fortnight, before the next visit by austerity inspectors from the so-called troika of the International Monetary Fund, European Union, and European Central Bank, who are monitoring Greece’s efforts to right its debt-crippled economy.

He said the measures could include a new drive to place thousands of civil servants in a so-called labor reserve where they will receive reduced salaries ahead of retirement. A similar effort was abandoned last year after Greek officials decided it was not practical.

‘‘Normally the [measures] will be ready just before the troika comes, that is at the beginning of September,’’ Stournaras told journalists after an evening briefing with Samaras. ‘‘So every day we are working on this package and pricing the measures.’’

The Finance Ministry hopes to have the general outlines of the cuts finalized in time for a visit to Athens on Wednesday by Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the eurozone finance ministers’ meetings. The prime minister then heads to Berlin and Paris on Friday and Saturday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

Stournaras was noncommittal on whether these talks would touch on Samaras’ preelection pledge to secure a two-year extension to Greece’s austerity deadline.

The measures could include a new drive to place thousands of civil servants in a so-called labor reserve where they will receive reduced salaries ahead of retirement.

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‘‘We will see, we will have a general discussion,’’ he said.

Samaras heads a fragile three-party coalition government, formed after two elections in May and June. He and his finance chief have a delicate balancing act to pull off in deciding on how to make the spending cuts.

The prime minister has managed to persuade his coalition partners to drop their objections to the cuts, which are expected to include further reductions to salaries and pensions. Socialist party leader Evangelos Venizelos, himself a finance minister until a few months ago, said earlier in August he had backed down from demands to delay some of the cuts to avoid bringing down the new government. He insists the new measures must not be ‘‘unfair’’ nor ‘‘across the board.’’

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