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Euro officials back Greek bailout tranche, ERT closure a factor: sources

Protesters stand in front of the Greek state television ERT headquarters in Athens June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis
Protesters stand in front of the Greek state television ERT headquarters in Athens June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

ATHENS (Reuters) - A working group of euro zone ministers and officials supports Greece's next bailout payment, two Greek finance ministry officials said on Friday, a decision made easier by the closure of state broadcaster ERT.

The 3.3 billion euro ($4.4 billion) payment was approved by euro zone finance ministers last month, contingent on benchmarks to be met in June on anti-corruption efforts, household debt relief and reforms of the electricity market.

The sources said the Eurogroup Working Group, which comprises mainly deputy finance ministers and senior treasury officials, had now backed the disbursement, paving the way for the currency bloc's finance ministers to sign off on it.

Greece's decision this week to fire about 2,600 ERT employees, which has left the government embroiled in a political crisis, influenced the working group.

"The ERT shutdown certainly helped," one of the two officials told Reuters.

Disbursement of the latest aid tranche, which is due some time this month, would bring the total rescue loans Athens has obtained from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund since mid-2010 to about 210 billion euros.

The EU and the IMF have pledged about 240 billion euros over 2010-2014 to stave off a debt default that would have destabilized the euro zone.

As one condition of the bailout, Greece has promised to lay off 4,000 public sector workers by the end of the year, with half to be dismissed by the end of September.

(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; writing by Harry Papachristou; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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