European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker believes an agreement on a third bailout for Greece in return for more tough reforms is likely this month, hopefully by August 20 when Athens must make a key debt repayment.
"All the reports I am getting suggest an accord this month, preferably before the 20th," when Greece must repay some 3.4 billion euros ($3.7 billion) due to the European Central Bank, Juncker told AFP in an interview on Wednesday.
Officials from the Commission, the ECB, the EU's bailout fund and the International Monetary Fund are currently in Athens working out the details of the new rescue worth up to 86 billion euros.
The Greek government said Tuesday it expected an agreement by August 18.
The negotiations in Athens, which took some time to organise, are now making "satisfactory" progress, Juncker said.
He said if an agreement is not reached, "then we will have to arrange another round of bridge financing" similar to July, when Juncker scraped together an emergency loan of 7.0 billion euros so Athens could pay the ECB and make up arrears due to the IMF.
After two bailouts costing 240 billion euros plus a private sector debt writedown of more than 100 billion euros, the IMF has been pressing its European partners hard to reduce Greece's debt mountain of more than 320 billion euros.