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Euro zone sets emergency summit on Greece as money flees

(Reuters)…Euro zone leaders will hold an emergency summit on Monday to try to avert a Greek default after bank withdrawals accelerated and government revenue slumped as Athens and its international creditors remain deadlocked over a debt deal.

Finance ministers of the 19-nation currency bloc failed to make any breakthrough on a cash-for-reforms agreement at talks in Luxembourg on Thursday, just 12 days beforeGreece must make a crucial debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund.

“Regrettably … too little progress has been made. No agreement is in sight,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chairman of the Eurogroup, told a news conference. Ministers sent a strong signal that it is up to Greece to make new proposals, he said.

The European Central Bank told the meeting it was not clear whether Greek banks would be open on Monday, officials said.

The ECB’s governing council will hold a special conference call on Friday – the second in three days – to consider adding more emergency liquidity for Greek banks facing a quickening drain on their cash, two persons close to the situation said.

European Council President Donald Tusk said in a statement he had summoned heads of state and government of the euro area to meet in Brussels at 1700 GMT on Monday to discuss Greece “at the highest political level”.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said further dialogue was needed “with adults in the room”.

Greece said it had put a “radical proposal” for budget monitoring on the table to show its willingness to reach a deal, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said.

He accused his European peers of being dangerously close to accepting “an accident”, saying they had refused to discuss his idea for braking public spending.

Dijsselbloem said if there was a last-minute deal next week, there would have to be some extension of the current bailout to allow time for disbursement.

Greek savers pulled out some 2 billion euros between Monday and Wednesday after weekend negotiations collapsed in Brussels, senior banking sources told Reuters. That is double the amount that the ECB granted Greek banks in extra emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) only on Wednesday.

Asked at the Eurogroup meeting whether Greek banks would be open on Friday, ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said: “Tomorrow, yes. Monday, I don’t know,” according to officials with knowledge of the talks.

The IMF dashed any hope that Athens could avert default if it fails to repay a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) loan by the end of June, piling pressure on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who shows no sign of yielding to the lenders.

If deposit flight continues to outpace ELA, it could force Greece to impose capital controls, as Cyprus did in 2013, to ration cash withdrawals and stop money fleeing the country.

The 2 billion euros taken out in just three days represents about 1.5 percent of total household and corporate deposits of 133.6 billion euros held by Greek banks as of end-April.

A finance ministry spokesman declined comment on the latest capital outflows. A government spokesman said on television late on Wednesday there was no plan to introduce controls.

Tsipras, elected on a promise to end austerity, is demanding a “political level” bargain in which European creditors promise Greece debt relief before he will make any more concessions.

But the deposit flight and revenue slump may force him to climb down, with the Greek central bank warning of economic catastrophe if Greece defaults and leaves the euro zone.

Athens reported a steep 24.6 percent fall in its revenues in May, including a 50 percent fall in tax returns, even though the central government posted a primary surplus before debt service in the first five months of this year.

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