Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met on Wednesday with Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker to launch a diplomatic marathon aimed at winning better bailout terms for Greece.
ATHENS- Samaras, who travels to Berlin on Friday to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and to Paris on Saturday to see French President Francois Hollande, says he needs "breathing space" to get Greece's recession-hit economy going.
Merkel and Juncker have already ruled out quick decisions however.
"We won't have a solution on Friday," Merkel said Wednesday during a visit to Moldova.
"We wait for the report of the troika. Then we will decide," she added, in a reference to representatives from the European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund who are to provide an audit on Greek finances.
Juncker told RTL television in Luxembourg: "There will be no decision on Greece before the month of October," as officials in Athens work to obtain a fresh installment of financial aid valued at 31.5 billion euros ($39 billion).
In an interview with the popular German daily Bild, Samaras said Greece needed more time to make spending cuts and reforms that are a condition for the next tranche of the country's EU-IMF rescue package.
"All we want is a little 'breathing space' to revive the economy quickly and raise state income," Samaras told Bild.
"Let me be very clear. We are not asking for additional money. We are sticking by our commitments and are meeting all our requirements," he underlined.
Greece argues that a greater-than-forecast recession is hampering efforts to meet economic recovery targets set in return for EU-IMF loans.
The finance ministry on Wednesday said state revenue was 2.8 billion euros below target in the first seven months of the year, mainly owing to delays in tax payments.
Merkel and Hollande, leaders of the eurozone's top two economies, are to meet in Berlin on Thursday, with Greece expected to be on their agenda.
"The aim is to discuss flexibility in return for assurances and the two want to have a common line before the arrival of the Greek prime minister," Claire Demesmay, of the German Council on Foreign Relations, told AFP.
France is considered more flexible than Germany regarding modifications of an austerity programme that is part of Greece's rescue package.
Greece is finalising a programme of spending cuts valued at about 11.5 billion euros for 2013 and 2014, which it needs to access the next installment of the rescue package.
Most of the cuts are expected to come from salaries, pensions and benefits and have caused friction within the conservative-led, three-party coalition government.
And a Greek finance ministry source told AFP that an additional 2-2.5 billion euros in spending cuts "cannot be ruled out."
Auditors sent by the EU, IMF and European Central Bank are expected here in September to report on progress in implementating the reform programme.
The report will determine whether Greece receives the next much-needed payment from its rescue package.
The country has fallen behind in the implementation of structural reforms, as back-to-back elections in May and June resulted in a two-month political deadlock.
But in seeking a two-year reprieve Samaras should be able to invoke a clause in the second bailout package signed in March that allows for an extension to the programme in case of a "deeper than expected recession."
As the country struggles with its fifth year of recession, predictions now are that its economy will contract by 7.0 percent this year, considerably more than the initial 4.5 percent estimate.
Last week, Juncker played down rumours of a possible Greek exit from the eurozone.
"I don't think it will happen," he told the Austrian daily Tiroler Tageszeitung in an interview. "I believe that Greece will try to redouble its efforts to meet its targets."
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has also underscored the need for Greece to deliver on its obligations.
"To maintain the trust of its European and international partners, the delays must end. Words are not enough, actions are more important," Barroso said last month after meeting with Greek leaders.
The main opposition Syriza party, which has led anti-austerity protests over the last two years, said Juncker had refused to meet its leader Alexis Tsipras.