Greek party leaders faced crunch talks on Tuesday to secure a new international bailout and avoid a chaotic debt default, caught between EU demands that they accept painful reforms now and a national strike against more austerity.
Prime Minister Lucas Papademos negotiated through most of the night with Greece's European Union and IMF lenders, ending at 4 a.m. (0200 GMT) when the 24-hour strike was about to begin, closing ports and tourist sites and disrupting public transport.
Papademos, a technocrat parachuted in to lead the Greek government late last year, must persuade leaders of the three parties in his coalition government to accept the EU/IMF conditions for the €130-billion ($170-billion) rescue.
“We must find a solution today,” said one government official before the leaders’ talks, which started later in the day.
Meanwhile, early on Tuesday, the strike called by the private and public sector unions GSEE and ADEDY began to bite, bringing the country's main port to a standstill.