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U.S. Backs IMF Goals for Argentina

Reuters

The U.S. supported the International Monetary Fund’s objectives for achieving a sustainable financial situation in Argentina, a senior Bush administration official said Sunday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said President Bush expressed concern about “its good friend” in a meeting with Argentine President Fernando de la Rua outside the U.N. General Assembly session.

“President de la Rua described his zero budget austerity plan and he emphasized that Argentina is going to stay that particular course,” the official told reporters.

“The policy is to support Argentina through the IMF to achieve a sustainable program,” the official said. “The key is sustainability.”

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He said Bush and De la Rua had agreed to set up a bilateral panel on trade and investment to deal with “real-world problems” the two countries encountered.

The official described it as an opportunity for Argentina and the U.S. “to sit down and look at the trade problems that exist,” citing the steel and citrus industries.

“President Bush underlined that the United States cares about its good friend Argentina and is concerned,” the official said.

Argentina is trying to end a three-year recession that made its $132-billion debt nearly impossible to repay.

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De la Rua failed last week to convince political opponents to sign an austerity deal desperately needed before he met Bush over the weekend to seek support for a record debt swap even as the country faces default.

By squeezing through a deal, De la Rua would have shown investors that his unpopular and divided center-left government has the political mettle to meet its promise to end deficit spending--a condition for IMF aid.


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