ATHENS (AFP) - Greece has been invited to become a member of the development bank of the BRICS economies, including Russia and China, which is seeking to become a counterweight to the IMF, a government source said Monday.
The invitation came during a telephone conversation between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russia's deputy finance minister Sergei Storchak, the government source said in a note to the media.
This announcement came late Monday as Greece was meeting with its eurozone partners in Brussels to try reach a deal with its EU-IMF creditors that would release the 7.2 billion euros ($8 billion) remaining in its bailout programme, which expires at the end of June.
Tsipras called the bank's invitation "a happy surprise" and expressed interest, saying he would "study the proposal in detail," the statement said.
The BRICS -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- had announced last July that they were creating a new bank, based in Shanghai, aimed at financing major infrastructure projects in emerging countries. But it was also seen as a move to shake up global economic governance, dominated by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Greece's debt-wracked government is running out of cash and in desperate need of the remaining bailout funds.
The IMF and its eurozone partners have conditioned the release of the funds on Athens keeping to its reform pledges.
Negotiations have stalled as Tsipras, whose leftist Syriza party won January elections, vows to stick to his anti-austerity campaign promises.
The Greek premier will discuss the BRICS bank with top representatives at an economic forum in Saint Petersburg on June 18-20, the source added.