The International Monetary Fund on Thursday voiced steadfast support for debt-riddled Greece ahead of next week's return of international inspectors overseeing its progress under a rescue program.
"The IMF is supporting Greece, has been supporting Greece and continues to support Greece in its efforts to overcome the economic crisis," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in a regularly scheduled news briefing.
"And that's again precisely what the mission will be discussing with the Greek authorities" when the delegation from the IMF, the European Union and the European Central Bank returns to Athens "next week," he said.
The mission of the so-called "troika" will determine whether enough progress has been made on Greece's economic reforms to unblock the next aid installment of 31.5 billion euros ($39.4 billion), he said.
The duration of the visit will depend on the progress in discussing what more needs to be done "to return Greece to the path of sustainable growth," he said.
On Monday, a spokesman for the European Commission had said that the troika's report was expected to be ready by the end of September or early October.
Greece is struggling to find $11.5 billion euros in additional savings over the next two years, a pre-condition for getting the next aid tranche under a 130-billion-euro bailout.
Without the crucial installment, the Greek government could quickly find itself unable to pay salaries.
But it faces resistance from the public sector which has already borne the brunt of previous cost-cutting measures.
"We believe that the government is working hard to identify measures that are effective, that will be fair and balanced," Rice said, adding: "We respect very much" the efforts being made by the Greek public.
He also said that IMF chief Christine Lagarde had spoken by phone Wednesday with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras about the Greek economic situation.
"It's not unusual for the managing director to confer with member states," he noted.