Greece says deal with creditors on austerity needed by Jan so it can focus on EU presidency

ATHENS, Greece – Greece’s prime minister wants to quickly wrap up talks with bailout creditors on possible new austerity measures so his country can focus on the rotating European Union presidency, which it assumes on Jan. 1.

Antonis Samaras insisted Tuesday he believes “there won’t be a problem” in reaching an agreement with representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Greece nearly went bankrupt in 2010, and has since relied on a massive rescue loan program, conditional on harsh spending cuts and tax hikes to balance its budget.

Samaras’ government and representatives of the three creditors are locked in talks over required measures for next year. Late Monday, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said creditors are demanding about 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) in additional cutbacks.