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Argentina advances IMF talks in Venice; deal remains elusive

FILE PHOTO: Argentine Economy Minister Martin Guzman during an interview with Reuters in his office in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 10, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina is pushing forward technical talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in meetings in Venice, though no breakthroughs are expected over plans to revamp some $45 billion the country owes the Fund.

A government spokesman told Reuters that officials including Economy Minister Martin Guzman were meeting IMF representatives on Monday to “advance in the negotiations of a new agreement that will resolve the debt problem”.

Guzman has been traveling in Italy for a meeting of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors and over the weekend met there with IMF head Kristalina Georgieva.

The government spokesman, in a written statement, said the Monday meetings would see teams from both sides “finish reviewing technical issues with a view to continuing the debt negotiations in the coming months.”

“There will be several meetings throughout the day, all led by Guzman, in which progress is expected but not immediate definitions.”

Argentina and the IMF are renegotiating a 2018 deal, the Fund’s largest ever, which failed to head off an economic crisis in the grains-producing South American nation that has battled rising debt levels, rampant inflation and a weak peso currency.

The country, which restructured foreign debts with private creditors after defaulting last year, also recently came to an agreement with the Paris Club of country lenders to delay over $2 billion in repayments until March next year.

Reporting by Jorge Iorio; Editing by Adam Jourdan and David Gregorio

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