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France optimistic about Greece crisis agreement

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An anti-austerity protest in front of the Greek parliament in Athens Reuters/Marko Djurica

French leaders were upbeat about the prospects for agreement on Greece's debt crisis ahead of an emergency European summit Monday. President François Hollande said agreement was within reach, according to politicians who met him, while Finance Minister Michel Sapin said "quality work" had been done in negotiations.


Hollande said Monday that an agreement was "possible" and "within reach", French Communist Party leader and senator Pierre Laurent said after meeting the president along with other signatories of an appeal to the government to back "the Greek people", published on Saturday.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

"The president of the republic told us he wanted an agreement that respects the current Greek government," Laurent told journalists, commenting that not only the future of Greece but also the future of Europe is in the balance.

"I see the work that has been done. It is quality work," Sapin told French radio. "A deal requires both sides to evolve. This work is underway and is being undertaken in good conditions."

The top official in France's governing Socialist Party warned that a failure to reach agreement would be a "leap into the unknown".

It would have "consequences in all the Mediterranean", including possibly France, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis said.

Monday's summit of the leaders of the 19 eurozone countries comes amid increasingly urgent efforts to conclude a deal to free up 7.2 billion euros that Athens needs to honour a 1.5-billion debt repayment to the IMF due on 30 June 30 and finance other reimbursements later this summer.

"We're here to conclude a viable economic accord," Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared on arrival in Brussels.

In an earlier statement, he had said that "abandoning excessive primary [budget] surpluses, protecting salaries and pensions, avoiding excessive and unreasonable hikes in electricity [prices]" were "keys to an accord".

European stocks rallied on Monday morning amid hopes of an agreement being reached but several finance ministers talked down hopes of agreement during the day.