ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece says it has all but concluded a crucial deal to write off half its privately-held debt.
Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told a new conference Tuesday that "We are one step -- I would say it is a formality-- away from finalizing" the debt relief agreement. It would see private creditors swap their Greek bonds for new ones of a lower value, longer repayment period on lower interest rate.
Venizelos says his Greece is now focusing on completing negotiations by the end of the week on a new program of cutbacks until 2015 -- without which Greece's bailout lifeline will be cut.
He hopes finance eurozone ministers can sign off on the new cuts -- and a new bailout -- during their meeting next Monday in Brussels.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)