IMF official hopes Lebanon programme talks can start before new year

Army soldiers man at a checkpoint in Beirut
Army soldiers man a checkpoint a day after gunfire erupted in an attack on protesters who were heading for a demonstration called by Hezbollah to demand the removal of the judge investigating last year's port explosion, in Beirut, Lebanon October 15, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT, Oct 19 (Reuters) - An executive director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday that he hopes programme negotiations with Lebanon could start before the new year to try to pull the country's economy out of a crisis.

An IMF programme is widely seen as the only way Lebanon can unlock foreign financial help which it desperately needs to emerge from one of the world's sharpest economic depressions.

"We hope the effort being made today will lead to access to all the data and to sufficient information ... all required data must be available first," the IMF's Mahmoud Mohieldin said in a statement.

Mohieldin's remarks come after a meeting with Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Tuesday.

He added that any conditions the IMF would require "will not be harsher than what we see in Lebanon today."

"I imagine that after the success of this programme... the required confidence can be restored to the economy and we positively bet on the ability of the economy and Lebanese people to respond to positive signals," Mohieldin said.

Reporting by Maha EL Dahan and Laila Bassam, Writing by Nayera Abdallah; Editing by Alex Richardson, William Maclean

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