UPDATE 1-IMF, Iraq to meet next week on financing needs
(Adds details, background)
WASHINGTON, July 22 (Reuters) - An International Monetary Fund mission will hold talks with Iraqi finance officials next week to assess financing needs for the country under a possible new IMF loan program, an IMF spokesman said on Wednesday.
Last month, Iraq expressed interest in a $5.5 billion IMF loan program over 18 months during discussions with Fund officials in Amman, Jordan.
"A mission will have further technical discussions with the authorities next week to assess the financing needs and discuss possible elements of a new program," the spokesman said.
"Further discussions are expected to take place in the coming months," he added.
The amount of financing will depend on Iraq's needs and aid from donors. Government revenues have been hard hit by the decline in global oil prices.
Iraq relies on oil exports for more than 95 percent of state revenues and desperately needs funds to rebuild the country after years of sectarian conflict and insurgency triggered by the 2003 U.S. invasion.
A $5.5 billion program would be the largest IMF financing agreement with the new Iraq administration, which has had two previous IMF arrangements of less than $1 billion each.
The talks come as Iraq is also courting foreign investors and an IMF program would give some credibility to the government economic policies. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Diane Craft)
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