ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece wants to conclude a key bailout review swiftly to qualify for inclusion in the European Central Bank's bond buying program and be able to refinance its debt from markets in August 2018, the country's government spokesman said on Tuesday.
Athens hopes a meeting of euro zone finance ministers later this month will help speed up its talks with lenders which have dragged on for months mainly due to differences on reforms, fiscal targets and debt relief measures beyond 2018, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said.
"We are escalating our efforts to conclude the bailout review immediately without adopting new measures ... in order to join the (ECB's) quantitative easing program in the first quarter 2017, to accelerate a market return and to be able to fully refinance our debt in August 2018, without official sector support," he said.
To help break the impasse, Greece is willing to discuss with the International Monetary Fund a "mechanism of guarantees", or fiscal contingency measures which would be activated only if Athens did not meet its targets, Tzanakopoulos told reporters.
"There would be no reason to activate this mechanism... the targets will be met," he said. "We would be doing it only to ease the IMF's overpessimistic concerns on the course of Greece's economy."
(Reporting by Renee Maltezou and George Georgiopoulos)