UPDATE 1-IMF's loan talks with Tunisia in 'advanced stage'

Mon Feb 4, 2013 6:15pm EST

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WASHINGTON Feb 4 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund said on Monday that its talks with Tunisia on a $1.78 billion loan deal are at "an advanced stage," and the authorities intend to use the funding as insurance to help the country during its political transition.

The IMF said economic and reform measures outlined in the government's economic program were correctly focused on growth that benefits everyone, and not just a few, and on reducing high levels of unemployment.

"In the coming weeks, the mission will continue to work with the Tunisian authorities to finalize the stand-by arrangement that supports Tunisia's economic program for presentation to the IMF executive board in March 2013," the IMF said in a statement.

Tunisia's Islamist-led government has sought to revive the economy since street protests ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali two years ago and sparked political changes across North Africa and parts of the Middle East.

The government said in November it was seeking a $2.5 billion loan from the IMF, but country's central bank revised that figure to $1.78 billion in January.

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