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Greece's bailout monitors approve payout of 1 billion-euro loan installment

ATHENS, Greece - A key body monitoring Greece's bailout approved the disbursement of the next batch of rescue loans Friday, after the country met outstanding reform targets that had delayed the payment.

Greece's finance ministry said the Euro Working Group, made up of finance ministry officials from the 18-country eurozone and representatives from the European Commission and European Central Bank, approved the installment during a teleconference Friday.

Eurozone finance ministers are expected to formally approve the disbursement of the 1 billion-euro ($1.36 billion) installment in a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

To access the funds, Greece had to meet six specific targets, including passing legislation and reforming the pharmaceutical sector to lower pharmacies' profit margins and therefore prices.

Greece has relied on international rescue loans worth a total 240 billion euros from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund since May 2010 when it found itself unable to raise funds on bond markets due to a financial crisis. In return, it has had to overhaul its economy and impose spending cuts and tax hikes, all under the strict supervision of its creditors.

Debt inspectors from the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission are expected to return to Athens next week to continue inspections on reforms progress for the disbursement of a further 1 billion euros.

After six years of a deep recession, Greece hopes its economy will begin growth again this year. For the first time since its bailout, it also recently tested the bond market with the successful sale of a five-year bond in April, raising 3 billion euros.

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