* Lagarde says Eurogroup meet to focus on putting Greece
back on sustainable path
* Says European policymakers need to take steps to lift
eurozone in 2013
MANILA Nov 16 A crucial Eurogroup meeting next
week on Greece should forge a deal that will put the insolvent
country's economy on a sustainable path, International Monetary
Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Friday.
The IMF chief is cutting short her tour of Asia to attend
the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Nov. 20.
A row between euro zone governments and the IMF over how to
make Greece's giant debt mountain manageable is holding up the
release of 31 billion euros ($39.5 billion) in emergency loans
needed to keep Athens afloat.
"It is not over until the fat lady sings as the saying
goes," Lagarde told reporters when asked by reporters in Manila
about the possibility of a deal on Greece next week.
"It is a question of working hard, putting our mind to it,
making sure that we focus on the same objective which is that
the country in particular, Greece, can operate on a sustainable
basis, can recover, can get back on its feet, can reaccess
markets as early as possible."
Lagarde earlier this week publicly disagreed with euro zone
finance ministers who have suggested that Greece should be given
until 2022 to lower its debt to gross domestic product (GDP)
ratio to 120 percent. Lagarde has insisted the
existing target of 2020 should remain.
European policymakers must also implement policy commitments
to help lift the euro zone economy next year, Lagarde said in
Banks, insurers and other private sector investors holding
about 206 billion euros of Greek bonds took a 53.5 percent
reduction on the nominal value of their securities earlier this
Greece's total debt is forecast to rise to nearly 190 percent
of gross domestic product next year, meaning it is highly
unlikely to fall back to 120 percent of GDP by 2020, the level
the IMF has said is the maximum sustainable in the long term.