ATHENS - Greece's president met party leaders on Sunday in a final bid to cobble together a coalition and avert a repeat election, but the veteran politician's effort looked set to fail because of deep splits over an EU/IMF rescue plan.

Leaders of the three biggest parties, each of whom had failed to form a government in the past week, convened at the presidential mansion, where Greek President Karolos Papoulias has a last opportunity to implore them to form a coalition before he must call a new election, probably in mid June.

Conservative leader Antonis Samaras, who placed first in the election last week but fell far short of a majority, expressed hope a deal could still be reached.

"We have a mandate to cooperate to change policies but at the same time remain in the euro. A mandate for a viable government, at least until the European elections (in 2014)," he said outside the presidential mansion.