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IMF to close Athens office as Greece recovers after crisis: Greek PM

ATHENS (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund, which helped fund Greece’s bailouts along with other euro zone countries, will shut down its Athens office, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday after meeting the fund’s chief in Washington.

The move is intended to bring about a new chapter of “positive cooperation” as the relationship has not always been smooth, Mitsotakis said.

Greece exited the last of three bailouts in August 2018. Its economy is recovering after a multi-year debt crisis that brought on a deep recession and the country has managed to retire early part of its IMF loans.

Greece’s fiscal progress is still being monitored by the euro zone and the IMF, which together lent Athens more than 250 billion euros ($278.60 billion) during its decade-long debt crisis.

“in the last six months … we have ushered a new period of growth and effective structural reforms,” Mitsotakis told IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva in Washington.

“I welcome our common decision to close down the IMF office within the next months and continue to cooperate as a country that has emerged from the austere framework of supervision by the IMF.”

Greece has agreed with its official lenders to achieve primary budget surpluses – excluding debt servicing costs – of 3.5% of GDP annually up to 2022 and 2.2% thereafter.

With its finances having improved in recent years, Athens is keen to have that target lowered soon, allowing it more fiscal space to boost economic growth.

“We see eye-to-eye on certain important issues such as reducing primary surpluses in 2021. The time has come to have this discussion with our euro zone partners,” Mitsotakis said.

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos in Athens; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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