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IMF and EU mission to Greece takes breather after progress

Visitors are silhouetted against the logo of the International Monetary Fund at the main venue for the IMF and World Bank annual meeting in
Visitors are silhouetted against the logo of the International Monetary Fund at the main venue for the IMF and World Bank annual meeting in

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greece's international lenders called a temporary halt to their latest mission to Athens on Sunday, saying they had made good progress and expected to resume talks with the government soon.

The pause in talks between the two sides had already been flagged at the end of the first week of work by the inspectors, who are seeking to determine the size of a third bailout for Greece and what Athens will have to do for it.

"To allow completion of technical work, policy discussions in Athens will pause, and are expected to resume in the coming weeks. In the meantime, contacts will continue between staff and the Greek authorities," the European Union, IMF and European Central Bank said in a joint statement.

In a review that is expected to stretch at least until the end of October, the inspectors will take stock of Greek reforms and update their growth and budget forecasts.

Two senior officials from the Greek finance ministry told Reuters this week that the two sides have agreed on a forecast that predicts the economy will shrink by 4 percent this year, less than previously projected, which may give Athens more leeway as it seeks to meet targets under the existing bailout.

Greece's finance minister on Saturday played down the risk of political instability after police arrested the leader of the far-right Golden Dawn party, two of its lawmakers and party members.

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; editing by Patrick Graham)

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