Euro-area finance ministers are set to clear a second rescue for Greece today to avoid what Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti described as a potential "brutal outcome" for the Greek economy.

Euro finance chiefs, gathering in Brussels today before a summit of leaders from the 27-nation European Union, will review Greece's progress on meeting the conditions of the 130 billion-euro ($173 billion) aid package, which they approved last week. That will pave the way for a loan payment before a March 20 Greek bond redemption and the completion of a debt exchange intended to ease the country's financing load.

If leaders "had not come to an agreement on the second package, this might have brought a brutal outcome for Greece," Monti said in an interview yesterday in Rome. That would have led to "contagion effects flowing to Spain, Italy, in spite of the good progress being made by these countries."

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