* Socialists, moderate leftists want two more years for cuts
* Political leaders agree to meet again
* Greece must produce cuts to satisfy EU, IMF lenders
ATHENS, July 30 (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Antonis
Samaras's allies are pushing for two more years to implement
unpopular austerity cuts before they sign off on them, sources
close to the parties said on Monday, potentially delaying a deal
on the savings demanded by lenders.
The three parties in Samaras's coalition have agreed on the
bulk of the nearly 12 billion euros ($14.7 billion) in cuts that
Greece must produce to satisfy inspectors from the European
Union and International Monetary Fund bailing out the nation.
But his two leftist partners insisted during an inconclusive
meeting on Monday that Greece needed more time to implement them
in the wake of a deeper than expected recession.
"There is agreement on the strategic plan. Discussions will
continue, there will be another meeting in the next few days,"
Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis told reporters after the
Hours before the three leaders resumed talks to nail down
the final 1.5 billion euros in cuts, the socialists and moderate
leftists backing Samaras banded together to demand the cuts be
spread out over four years instead of two, party sources said.
Greece's bailout insists on the cuts in 2013 and 2014.
"The two leaders have agreed to ask for an extension of the
programme because all these harsh measures cannot be implemented
in two years' time," a party official said after talks between
Kouvelis and Socialist chief Evangelos Venizelos earlier on
A second party official said the Socialists - facing the
brunt of voter anger over their support for austerity - wanted
6.7 billion worth of cuts pushed through in 2013 and 2014, with
the remaining cuts saved for the following two years.
That plan, however, was expected to meet resistance from
Samaras, who wants to restore Greece's rapidly sinking
credibility with lenders as a first step before trying to
renegotiate the terms of the deal.
"We are trying to find the perfect mix," Finance Minister
Yannis Stournaras told reporters after the meeting. "We all
agree that two more years are needed, that the road is uphill
All three parties in Samaras's government agree that Greece
requires additional time to meet its debt targets because of a
deeper-than-expected slump that has been likened to a Greek
version of America's "Great Depression".
But Venizelos, the once-powerful finance minister who
negotiated the reviled bailout, is particularly keen to distance
himself from the latest round of cuts as his party tries to
rebuild after being pummeled in elections this year.
The once-dominant Socialists were beaten to a lowly third
place in the June vote behind the radical leftist Syriza group.
Kouvelis' Democratic Left party, which campaigned against
the 130-billion-euro rescue before allying with the victorious
conservatives, is also under pressure to show voters it will not
sign up to new austerity cuts without a fight.
The bickering among Greek political leaders comes against a
backdrop of increasing impatience from the country's European
partners and the IMF, who must once again decide whether to
continue funding the country or cut it loose from the euro zone.
Mired in its fifth year of recession and wholly reliant on
bailout funds, Greece is set to run out of money within weeks if
a new tranche of aid is withheld - leaving it at risk of
crashing out of the single currency.
Even if the political leaders were to seal agreement on the
cuts required under its bailout, a growing sense of gloom has
set in on the country's future in the euro.
Speculation has grown that Greece might need a second debt
restructuring to bring its debt back on a sustainable footing
and that its 130-billion-euro bailout may need to be hiked by a
further 20-50 billion euros - at a time when there is no
appetite to give Greece more time or money.
Policymakers are working on "last chance" options to bring
Greece's debts down and keep it in the euro zone, with the ECB
and national central banks looking at also taking significant
hits on the value of their bond holdings, officials have said.