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IMF chief says interactions with Argentina ‘very constructive’ so far

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Friday the lender has had “very constructive” exchanges with Argentina’s new Peronist government and would do whatever possible to assist the indebted country.

Argentina is grappling with a severe debt crisis since last year that has forced it to enter negotiations with creditors, including the IMF, to restructure around $100 billion of sovereign debt to avoid a damaging default.

“We have had very constructive interactions so far with the new leadership in Argentina,” Georgieva said at an event at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, according to a recording shared by an IMF spokesman.

“We are looking at doing what we can to be helpful to Argentina. We see eye to eye on the need to restore the economy and to address the increase in poverty that has affected negatively many Argentinians.”

Argentina, which struck a $57 billion financing deal with the IMF in 2018 under former President Mauricio Macri, owes the fund around $44 billion, due over the next few years. The IMF has held off disbursing remaining tranches of the loan.

The government of center-left Alberto Fernández, which came into office in December, is negotiating with the IMF and other creditors to be given more time to revive economic growth and then pay back its debts.

Argentina’s Economy Minister Martin Guzman said last week the government was working tirelessly to resolve the debt crisis, a major challenge with Latin America’s third-largest economy facing economic recession and high levels of inflation.

(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison and Maximilian Heath; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Tom Brown)