Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks during a press conference during a European Union summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on April 23, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS
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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Tuesday he was confident of an outline deal with international creditors within two weeks, after shaking up his negotiating team and sidelining his finance minister who has infuriated euro zone partners.Tsipras also said he would have to resort to a referendum if lenders insisted on demands deemed unacceptable by his leftist government, elected to scrap austerity.Athens is weeks away from running out of cash, and talks with EU and IMF lenders on more aid have been deadlocked over their demands for Greece to implement reform measures, including pension cuts and labour market liberalization.In his first major television interview since being elected in January, Tsipras said he expected a deal with creditors by May 9, three days before a debt payment to the IMF of about 750 million euros ($815.5 million) falls due. Pressed on the options if no deal were found, Tsipras ruled out snap elections.On Monday, Tsipras appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Euclid Tsakalotos -- one of his close allies and a soft-spoken economist liked by officials representing creditors -- to head a new group handling negotiations with Greece's lenders.The moves effectively took the talks out of the hands of Varoufakis, although Tsipras defended the flamboyant intellectual, while acknowledging that the mood towards Greece among euro zone finance ministers was sour.
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