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Eurozone OKs Greek Bailout Deal, Extending Financial Lifeline

A European Union (EU) flag flutters in front of the temple of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, on Saturday. Finance ministers on Friday approved the first 26 billion euros ($29 billion) of a vast new bailout package for Greece.
Yorgos Karahalis

After months of wrangling and brinkmanship, the Eurozone finally approved the first tranche of an 86 billion euro ($96 billion) bailout for Greece in exchange for a promise from Athens to put its financial house in order. It is the third time in five years that Greece has sought emergency funds to stave off default.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the approval sent a "loud and clear" message that Greece will remain in the Eurozone — ending concerns that the country would be forced out.

The green light from the 19-nation common currency zone comes a day after the Greek parliament approved the deal after a contentious and protracted debate that left a deep split in the ranks of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' Syriza party.

As The Wall Street Journal notes: "The deal marks an end to more than six months of turbulent negotiations between the left-wing government in Athens and its creditors, the other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund, that brought Europe's currency union closer to breakup than before in its almost-six-year-old debt crisis."

The approval for 26 billion euros includes 10 billion euros to recapitalize Greek banks, which experienced a virtual run in the latest crisis, and 16 billion euros in installments — 3.2 billion euros of which is meant to repay a bridge loan to the European Central Bank by August 20.

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde welcomed the agreement but warned that it would not be enough to put Greece back on the path to solvency, according to the BBC.

Lagarde said that Athens needs "well beyond what has been considered so far" and that the country "cannot restore debt sustainability solely through actions on its own."

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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