Private creditors: Deal with Greece close

By DEMETRIS NELLAS | January 28, 2012 | 12:05 PM EST

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Officials say talks between Greece and private creditors on halving the country's privately held debt load have ended and a deal is very close.

A statement from creditor representatives Charles Dallara and Jean Lemierre says the two sides are "close to the finalization of a voluntary (private sector involvement) ... We expect to conclude next week as discussions on other issues move forward."

The statement Saturday also refers to "the framework expressed publicly earlier this week by Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker in his capacity as Chairman of the Eurogroup."

This means that the creditors have accepted an interest rate below 4 percent for the new bonds that will be issued by Greece in place of the old ones.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos represented the Greek government throughout the talks.