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Women draw money from a bank cash machine in Athens on October 5, 2012/AFP

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Eurozone finally releases rescue funds for Greece

Women draw money from a bank cash machine in Athens on October 5, 2012/AFP

BRUSSELS, Dec 13 – Finance ministers of the 17-nation eurozone agreed on Thursday to release a first 34 billion euros of aid to Greece, part of a rescue package held up for months due to worries over economic reform delays.

“The meeting is over. The release of the financial aid has been accepted,” said a spokesman for Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker said.

The IMF and the eurozone had agreed to release 43.7 billion euros in rescue loans in four instalments to enable Greece to avoid bankruptcy provided Athens carried out a bond buyback.

Part of that money, an amount of some 34 billion euros, is urgently needed to recapitalise Greek banks which took part in a previous operation to write-down another part of the country’s debt in the spring.

Germany and France signalled on Wednesday that a Greek debt buy-back passed a critical bailout test, saying it was “satisfactory” even though it will cost more than expected.

Greece’s debt management agency said it had attracted offers worth 31.9 billion euros ($41.2 billion) under the scheme.

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