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Greek Letter Indicates Athens May Make Debt Concessions

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker holds a news conference as he receives Mario Monti, Chairman of the High Level Group on Own Resources, at the EC headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 1, 2015.

A letter sent by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to eurozone ministers indicates Greece is prepared to accept most of the European Commission's terms for new bailout money.

The letter was shared with news outlets Wednesday, hours before European finance ministers were scheduled to hold a teleconference discussing Greece's latest plea for a deal. The letter indicates Greece may be more willing than it previously indicated to bow to the demands of its creditors.

In their meeting later Wednesday, European finance ministers are set to weigh Greece's request for a last-minute of $32.4 billion. The money would be a last-ditch effort to keep Greece in the eurozone after it missed a key $1.8 billion loan payment Tuesday to the International Monetary Fund.

European finance ministers decided Tuesday against extending a bailout program for Greece that would have enabled it to meet its obligation to its creditors.

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Tuesday "it would be crazy to extend the program."

On Wednesday, thousands of bank branches across Greece are open to pensioners who do not have ATM cards and need to withdraw cash.

A bank manager tries to explain the situation to hundreds of pensioners queuing outside a National Bank branch in Athens, Greece, July 1, 2015.
A bank manager tries to explain the situation to hundreds of pensioners queuing outside a National Bank branch in Athens, Greece, July 1, 2015.

Also Tuesday, the Fitch ratings agency downgraded Greece's credit rating further into "junk" status, meaning it considers the country "likely" to default on private debt.

Athens also says it could cancel Sunday's referendum on whether Greeks would agree to more economic reforms and spending cuts in exchange for new loans if its creditors agree to open new talks.

A Greek default could mean Greece would leave the eurozone, shaking up European markets.

While the country's economic future remained uncertain, the Greek finance ministry said it would open about 1,000 bank branches across the country to allow pensioners, many of whom do not have ATM cards, to withdraw enough money to get through the week.

Greece has amassed a huge debt over the last five years. But the government is balking at demands from the EU for more economic austerity. Greece says its citizens have suffered enough with spending cuts and tax hikes that have lowered their standard of living.

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the Greek financial crisis is "an issue of substantial concern," but more for Europe than the United States. Mr. Obama said the U.S. does not believe the ongoing financial turmoil will result in "a major shock" to the American economy.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew spoke with several European finance ministers by telephone Tuesday and said afterward that the United States is closely following the situation. He said it is in the best interests of all parties, and for the global economy, if Greece and its creditors continue to work toward a solution that puts Greece on a path toward reform and recovery within the eurozone. He said he would stay in close touch with the European ministers over the next few days.