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Greek coalition reaches a 'basic' austerity agreement

ATHENS--After weeks of fruitless efforts, the heads of the three parties in Greece's governing coalition have struck a basic deal on a new round of harsh austerity measures required for the country to continue getting vital rescue loans, officials said Thursday.

Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras said the long-delayed agreement placed him in a stronger negotiating position ahead of talks Monday with representatives of the country's bailout creditors, who will have the final word on the cutbacks.

He said Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' deliberations with the heads of his two junior coalition partners resulted in “a basic agreement” on the measures intended to ax some 11.5 billion euros (US$14.8 billion) off state spending in 2013-14.

Under its bailout commitments, Athens must also boost state revenues by an additional 2 billion euros over the next two years through tax reform and improved tax collection.

The three-party meeting came a day after more than 50,000 anti-austerity protesters took to the streets of Athens, in a demonstration marred by clashes between hooded anarchist youths and riot police.

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