Barroso to meet Greek premier in Athens

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is set to meet Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday in Athens to discuss the debt-hit nation's progress under its bailout plan.

Barroso's trip coincides with a visit by EU/IMF inspectors to assess whether Athens deserves to receive more payments under the 130 billion euro rescue program, as speculation mounts that it could be forced to quit the eurozone.

Citigroup Inc. on Thursday raised its estimate of the chances Greece will drop the euro in the next 12 to 18 months to about 90 percent.

Barroso's visit is the first by any head of the three bodies that make up the so-called troika since the bailout was agreed in May 2010. Some 13 inspections have been carried out since then.

"Mr. Samaras and President Barroso... will discuss the overall situation in Europe and obviously particularly focusing on Greece,» EU Commission spokesman Alejandro Ulzurrun told reporters.

Barroso's visit to the Greek capital was postponed by one day to allow him to hold a meeting with fellow EU commissioners in Brussels, Greece's government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said. [Reuters, Kathimerini]