PARIS, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Argentina and the Paris Club are likely to agree that the Latin American nation owes the group of creditor countries $8 billion to $9 billion, a source close to the negotiations said on Thursday.
Argentina has said it owed $6.03 billion in principal and interest at the time of its massive 2002 default and has been negotiating additional punitive interest payments with Paris Club members.
A definitive figure remains to be agreed, but negotiators from both sides have narrowed their differences over the amount Argentina owes, the source said on condition of anonymity.
"It's between 8-9 billion dollars," the source said, asked about the total sum that will be set for debt owed, adding that the talks are not stalled but are just taking time.
Argentina hopes to agree a repayment plan with the Paris Club by June, resolving one of the last vestiges of its 2001-02 economic crisis. While the two sides are close to agreement on the sum after several months of talks, divisions remain over how much time Argentina will have to pay the money.
"Talks on a repayment offer are still ongoing," the source said, adding that after the middle of the year, presidential election campaigning in Argentina could complicate Paris Club talks.
"If there is no agreement by June, things risk getting bogged down for a while," he said.
Paris Club President Ramon Fernandez met with Argentine Economy Minister Amado Boudou on the sidelines of a meeting of Group of 20 finance ministers last week, but their talks did not yield a breakthrough.
A 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 the crisis and has not issued bonds internationally since due to related lawsuits. (Reporting by Leigh Thomas)