Employers' negotiators arrived at Government Buildings earlier today for what is expected to be a three-day intensive push to secure an agreement.
All the key issues were still in play and talking over the last four days had been about securing each other's position, he told the media in Dublin earlier today.
"The Government could not put proposals on the table until it knows whether an agreement is possible," he added.
Larry Broderick, general secretary of the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA), said he was not confident that a deal could be reached. There had been no sign of movement from employers or the government.
All trade unions have warned that any new agreement must protect vulnerable, low-paid workers who have been worst hit by inflation.
Cowen to assess Prospects of Deal
Meanwhile Brian Cowen said an assessment would have to be made later today on whether progress can be made on the latest round of pay talks.
Speaking in Daingean (in his home county Offaly), the Taoiseach said it had been agreed that another week would be given to try and achieve a deal between both sides, but while the talks continued, it would be necessary to carry out an assessment to see if any progress could be made in extending the process.