Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faced intense pressure today to back an onerous package of austerity measures demanded by European creditors in return for a financial rescue that would prevent the collapse of the country's banks and its potential exit from the euro. If not, then some of Greece's eurozone partners raised the specter of a temporary Greek exit from Europe's single currency, which Greece has been a member of since 2002. The Greek government is keen to avoid that fate and has indicated its preference to sign a deal at today's emergency summit of the 19 leaders of the eurozone despite what it considers to be extremely harsh conditions. The leaders, who have been closeted since 11 a.m. EDT, have vowed to keep talking until something concrete can emerge.
They were presented with a set of proposals from the eurozone's top official, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who says the sides have "come a long way" after two days of talks among finance ministers. The final effort on "some big issues," would be left to the leaders, Dijsselbloem says. A Greek government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has warned eurozone finance ministers that Greek banks are at risk and that the need for a deal is pressing. The ECB has frozen its help over the past couple of weeks as the banks have stayed closed. The fear is that by tomorrow the banks may have exhausted all their cash reserves, which could spark financial chaos. Click for more on the eleventh-hour discussions about Greece.