May 10, 2018 / 10:20 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 2-IMF says to continue talks with Argentina for fund-supported program

(Adds White House statement backing Macri’s reforms)

BUENOS AIRES, May 10 (Reuters) - International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Thursday she instructed the IMF team to continue discussions toward a fund-supported program for Argentina after meeting with Treasury Minister Nicolas Dujovne in Washington.

“Minister Dujovne and I agreed that our shared goal is to reach a rapid conclusion of these discussions,” Lagarde said in a statement, adding that she supported President Mauricio Macri’s reforms to date and that the IMF was “ready to continue to assist the government.”

Dujovne said in a statement later that Argentina and the IMF had agreed to not publicly disclose the amount of financing or conditions until an agreement between the two had been reached.

Macri’s government said on Wednesday it was seeking a “high access stand-by” financing arrangement from the global fund.

Argentina requested the lifeline from the IMF earlier this week after the peso currency weakened to all-time lows. The South American nation is tackling one of the world’s highest inflation rates and a general outflow of funds from emerging market economies.

Turning to the IMF is a politically risky move for business-friendly Macri, who was elected in late 2015 after 12 years of leftist government.

Many Argentines blame the IMF for imposing policies on Argentina that led to a deep financial crisis in 2001 and 2002.

The White House said on Thursday Washington backs Macri’s reforms.

“The United States supports the economic reform program of President Mauricio Macri of Argentina, which is market-oriented, growth-focused, and has improved Argentina’s future,” the White House said in a statement. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer and Luc Cohen; additional reporting by Eric Beech in Washington; editing by Lisa Shumaker and Sandra Maler)

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