Greek Make-Or-Break Crisis Talks Rumble On
Talks aimed at stitching together a coalition government in Greece will drag on into Monday after another day of negotiations failed.
President Karolos Papoulias spent Sunday in consultation with the main political parties - despite there being no sign of any significant progress.
Earlier, one of the country's Socialist leaders said those involved had reached an impasse.
Then, late on Sunday, Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis said the president had told him there was no possibility so far of forming a broad coalition government.
State TV said Mr Papoulias would now re-convene with Mr Kouvelis and the heads of the parties that came in the top three spots in last week's elections.
If successful, it could end a lingering political crisis and potentially stave off the country's exit from the shared European currency.
However, the head of the radical left Syriza party, Alexis Tsipras, has refused to attend further talks in Greece on Monday.
Mr Papoulias stepped in after Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos failed in a three-day attempt to form a coalition.
He was the third political leader to fail at the task after inconclusive elections last Sunday delivered a hung parliament with none of the competing parties gathering more than 19% of the vote.
The political turmoil that ensued has, once again, raised the spectre of a Greek default and heightened concerns of a calamitous break-up of the 17-nation eurozone.
Skittish international markets and lenders issued repeated warning to Athens this week that the political uncertainty gripping the country could mark the end of multi-billion bailout funds keeping the country afloat.
Mr Papoulias kicked off his brokering attempt on Sunday when he convened a meeting with the three election frontrunners - conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, Mr Tsipras and Mr Venizelos - at the capital's presidential palace.
The president also held separate meetings with four other party leaders, including Nikos Michaloliakos and his neo-Nazi Golden Dawn grouping that scored a stunning 7% in the polls as millions of Greeks reeling from years of austerity preferred to punish mainstream parties, opting for fringe, protest groupings.
Short of a major surprise, pundits and party officials, say the president's bid is unlikely to lead to a breakthrough, pushing the country to election, as early as June 17.
His bid, in fact, appears doomed even before it starts.
Hopes of a breakthrough surged on Friday when a moderate leftist leader agreed to team up with Mr Venizelos' socialists and Mr Samaras' conservatives, forming a coalition that would keep Greece in the euro but "gradually disengage" the country from a strict fiscal austerity pact.
When the proposal was put forward to Mr Tsipras, he rejected it, saying he could never team up with parties that agreed to an austerity plan he and million of crisis-hit Greek want to tear up and write a new one.
"We remain true to the mandate the people gave us," he said after the collapse of the talks late on Friday.
"We're not interested in cashing this in for three seats in a coalition government."
The 38-year-old leader saw his once tiny Syriza party make massive gains in the elections, grabbing 16.7% of the vote and emerging as the country's second biggest party for its strong his anti-bailout platform.
While Mr Samaras and Mr Venizelos suggested they were willing to give their tacit support to Mr Tsipras to form a minority government, they have lampooned his positions - billing them dangerous and a prelude to bankruptcy.
The constitution sets no deadline for the president's initiative, which could drag on for days if he deciphers some prospect of a breakthrough.
On Sunday, though, the centre-left daily Ethnos blared "Russian roulette" in its headline, warning politicians of the high stakes involved in the coalition-forming bid as Greece sinks its fifth year of recession and cash-flows run dry next month.
Still, the pain of austerity has been so great that angry swing voters looked set to stick to their support for Syriza despite the growing risk of Greece's bankruptcy and euro-exit.
A poll published earlier this week showed Syriza grabbing nearly 27% of the vote in a repeat election, almost 9% up its previous showing and well ahead of the country's traditional mainstream parties.
Even so, such a result would keep Syriza shy of an outright majority in parliament, leading the country to another political deadlock.