Venizelos says crucial issues remain in talks with lenders

Greece needs to resolve «crucial» issues in talks with foreign lenders to secure a 130-billion-euro bailout, with a long-delayed bond swap now the easier part of the negotiations, the near-bankrupt country’s finance minister said.

“After 12 hours of tough negotiations, we have solved many issues but other crucial issues are still open,» Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told reporters. «I would say that the PSI (bond swap) is the easier part of the process now.”

He said euro zone finance ministers would hold a conference call on Saturday afternoon to discuss Greece ahead of a meeting in person on Wednesday.

Venizelos confirmed that a meeting of political leaders in the Greek government would be held on Saturday in an effort to win their backing for reforms demanded by lenders. [Reuters]