A senior European Central Bank official is insisting that the bank can't help Greece by agreeing to roll over the government bonds it holds or accept lower interest rates.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who wants more time to enact reforms and budget cuts, has suggested the ECB could help that way.
But ECB executive board member Joerg Asmussen said in comments published Saturday that the idea is a nonstarter.
Asmussen was quoted as telling German newspaper Bild am Sonntag: "We can neither extend the maturities for Greek bonds nor lower the interest rates. Both would be a form of debt relief, and so direct financing of the Greek state. The ECB is not legally allowed to do that."
The ECB didn't participate in this year's so-called haircut of Greek debt.