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IMF, Egypt hope to reach loan agreement in 'weeks'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The International Monetary Fund and Egypt hope to conclude talks for a loan deal "in the coming weeks", they said in a joint statement Sunday.

The statement came after IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde met an Egyptian delegation in Washington this weekend that included Central Bank of Egypt Governor Hisham Ramez and Finance Minister Al-Mursi Hegazy.

The Egyptian officials "are firmly committed to addressing Egypt's economic and financial challenges with the objective of restoring sustained and socially-balanced growth, and they are already taking encouraging actions in this direction," the brief statement read.

"Work will continue with the objective of reaching agreement on an IMF Stand-By Arrangement to support the authorities' national economic program in the coming weeks."

The IMF and Egypt have been in talks for months over a multibillion-dollar IMF loan that is contingent on strong support from domestic political actors and a commitment to key reforms.

Last year the IMF reached a deal in principle to provide a $4.8 billion loan to help finance the government while it undertakes reforms.

The loan was close to completion in November when political changes in Cairo set it back.

Authorities believe the IMF loan will help restore investor confidence in Egypt, where unrest that accompanied the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak hammered revenue from the once-lucrative tourism industry.

On Saturday Lagarde said the IMF would remain engaged in loan negotiations with Egypt but also wanted the international community to provide financing.

"It's a task and we will not give up, we will not leave the table," Lagarde said at a news conference during the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington.

Lagarde emphasized that the IMF "cannot be the only one" to help prop up Egypt's economy.

"It will take international support and international donors to also help Egypt," she said.

Egypt's current president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, is under pressure from an increasingly vocal opposition that accuses him of betraying the goals of the 2011 uprising.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130422/imf-egypt-hope-reach-loan-agreement-weeks