UPDATE 1-IMF says ready with technical support for Greece

(Adds details on technical support)

WASHINGTON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund on Thursday welcomed European Union leaders’ political backing for Greece and offered technical support “as necessary” to help Greece implement fiscal reforms.

“We welcome the support for Greece from its EU partners, which, together with policy actions undertaken by the Greek authorities, are important new steps in response to the challenges the country faces,” IMF spokeswoman Caroline Atkinson said in a statement, following a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.

For story on EU agreement on Greece, see: [ID:nLDE61A0W2]

Despite its political backing, the EU did not announce concrete steps of aid for debt-stricken Greece. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Greece had not asked for financial support during the meeting.

So far, the IMF’s support for Greece has been of a technical nature but some IMF board members believe the EU will need to formalize that assistance through “enhanced surveillance.” Such monitoring would not only reassure markets but also help Athens carry through on the painful measures needed to clean up its public finances.

The IMF could also step in with financial support, although Greece’s quota in the IMF -- the amount it could borrow -- is a small $500 million, a drop in the bucket compared to its fiscal shortfall this year of between $50 billion and $70 billion. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton, Editing by Leslie Adler)