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Greece to reach key budget target for 2013

ATHENS, Greece - Greece's finance ministry said Tuesday that it is on target to achieve a primary budget surplus in 2013, a key target set in the country's bailout agreements.

Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said the central government's primary surplus -- which does not count the cost of paying interest on existing debt -- is expected to be 691 million euros ($943.5 million).

"After many years, and with massive sacrifices made by Greek society, the country has achieved a primary surplus," Staikouras said.

"This is a very important result that was achieved by meeting targets in revenues and exceeding them in terms of expenditures."

The primary surplus for the overall government, which includes local administrations, is expected to be 812 million euros ($1.1 billion), Staikouras said. That data will be released in about one month, while the European Union's statistics agency, Eurostat, will release its 2013 Greek budget data in April.

Greece has promised to balance its budget, before counting interest payments, in the hopes of qualifying for a debt relief deal this year.

The country has been relying on international rescue loans since 2010, when it lost access to bond markets as investors worried about its high debt.

Bailout inspectors from the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are due back in Athens to review the country's finances, but a date has not yet been set.

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