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IMF chief says open to changes for Irish bailout deal

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The IMF is open to changing the terms of Ireland’s bailout programme in order to help the troubled eurozone nation return to long-term bond markets, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said on Friday during a visit to Dublin.

"We have an open mind about many issues, many of the terms and conditions of the exit strategy and as far as the adjustment to the loans," the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) told reporters at a press conference in the Irish capital.

Lagarde was speaking during her first visit to Dublin since it entered an 85-billion-euro ($112-billion) bailout programme in November 2010, and her first visit to a bailed-out eurozone nation since taking over as head of the IMF in 2011.

Earlier this week, EU finance ministers requested the so-called troika of lenders – comprising the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF – to address extending the maturities on the Irish and Portuguese bailout loans.

Such a move would reduce the immediate financial burden for these struggling economies to raise money on the open markets.

"It's not just about the extension of maturities, you can really think of other devices possible, but it certainly includes the extension," Lagarde added.

"We will look at it together with our two partners in the troika, and we have been tasked to do that and as I said with an open mind with the imperative to help Ireland exit the programme.

"We are in a dialogue, we will continue in that dialogue so there is certainty as to the terms of the exit and the way forward."

Ireland hopes to become the first bailed-out eurozone nation to exit its rescue programme by returning fully to the sovereign markets in nine months.

Dublin was bailed out in late 2010 when the global financial crisis, a domestic property market meltdown and massive state debts left it on the brink of collapse.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130308/imf-chief-says-open-changes-irish-bailout-deal