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IMF says over 20 poor countries seek debt relief, extension possible

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is seen during a news conference in Santiago, Chile, July 23, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday that over 20 poor countries have requested relief from official bilateral debt under a G20-backed initiative and the Fund stands ready to support an extension of forbearance beyond the end of 2020 if needed.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told a regular news briefing that more than half of the 73 poor countries eligible for have expressed interest in the program prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, and inquiries are expected to continue to increase.

Reporting by David Lawder, Editing by Franklin Paul