Athens: Greece needs the next eight-billion-euro slice (USD 11-billion) of aid from its partners by December 15, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Friday.

The debt-wracked country needed the injection of EU-IMF cash "before December 15, according to the financial commitments of Greece," Venizelos told a meeting of the ruling socialist PASOK party.

He said this disbursement of aid required a "climate of consensus" amid a political crisis in Greece and calls for early elections but added that the country "absolutely needed" the new bailout money.

Angered by the shock decision by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to put a hard-fought EU bailout plan to a popular vote, top European leaders said yesterday that Athens could not expect to receive any more aid.

"The Europeans and the IMF can't release the sixth tranche of loans to Greece until Greece endorses the package of October 27, and all uncertainty due to the referendum is lifted," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday in Cannes, southern France.
   
On Friday, Papandreou said he was prepared to drop plans for the referendum.

(Agencies)