* Argentina to pay $9 billion to Paris Club - local daily
* Economy Minister declines comment, says talks continue
* Argentina had said it owed $6.03 billion
(Adds analysts' comments)
BUENOS AIRES, Jan 26 Reuters) - Argentina will agree to
repay nearly $9 billion in defaulted debt to the Paris Club,
well above what it had said previously that it owed the major
creditor nations, a local newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Argentina, Latin America's No. 3 economy, had said it owed
$6.03 billion in principal and interest at the time of its
massive 2002 default, with Germany and Japan holding some 60
percent of that. Other countries including the Netherlands,
Italy and the United States hold less than 10 percent each.
The new figure acknowledges punitive interest payments,
according to local newspaper Pagina 12, citing a source close
to Economy Minister Amado Boudou, who declined to comment.
"When we have some news we will disclose it but for now we
are in negotiations," he told reporters after an event hosted
by the Economy Ministry.
Ministry officials went to Paris this week to continue
talks with the Paris Club, which groups creditor nations.
Pagina 12 said that in exchange for agreeing to a higher
payment, Argentina will try to extend the repayment period to
five or six years from the 18 months the creditors requested.
Argentina hopes to agree a repayment plan with them by
June, resolving one of the last vestiges of its 2001-2002
A successful deal could help Argentina return to global
credit markets and facilitate loans to foreign companies
operating in the country.
Argentina stopped repaying some $100 billion in sovereign
debt at the height of its the crisis and has not issued bonds
on the global market since because of related lawsuits.
Traders in Buenos Aires tracking the progress of the talks
said the focus would shift to the timeframe once the final
repayment figure had been agreed.
"The Paris Club will be important when they reach a deal on
the conditions, especially on the unpaid interest and the
repayment period," said Diego Martinez Burzaco, a trader at
Buenos Aires-based brokerage Puente Hermanos.
Roberto Drimer, an analyst at consultancy VaTnet, said the
fiscal cost was "significant but secondary."
"The important thing is that some sort of agreement is
reached in the second half," Drimer said.
President Cristina Fernandez said in November Argentina had
persuaded the Paris Club to negotiate a deal without the usual
oversight from the International Monetary Fund. For more see
(Reporting by Alejandro Lifschitz and Jorge Otaola; Writing by
Helen Popper and Luis Andres Henao; Editing by James