CORRECTED-IMF in loan talks with Tunisia-official

Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:25am EST

(Corrects to clarify Egypt talks to follow technical work, paragraph 3)

WASHINGTON Jan 18 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund has started negotiations with Tunisia on a loan program, while Egypt has expressed readiness to move forward on its funding talks, a senior IMF official said on Friday.

Masood Ahmed, IMF director for the Middle East and North Africa, told reporters he hoped to report progress in the talks with Tunisia by early February. Tunisia said late last year it was seeking a $2.5 billion loan from the IMF, but Ahmed said the talks were currently establishing the amount.

Meanwhile, he said Egypt was eager to move forward with its IMF loan deal, but only after the Egyptian authorities update budget measures to deal with the country's financial challenges.

Ahmed said before it signed off on an agreement, the IMF needed to be satisfied that Egypt would be able to implement the program and meet its conditions.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Jackie Frank)

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