IMF had 'productive' discussion with Egypt

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - The International Monetary
Fund held "productive" discussions with Egypt about its economic
strategy, a senior Fund official said on Monday after a visit to
the country.

Egypt is desperately seeking a $4.8 billion loan from the
IMF to help prop up its budget and contain a currency crisis set
off by political turmoil.

"I have held productive discussions today with President
(Mohamed) Mursi, Prime Minister (Hisham) Kandil, and Egypt's
economic team on the economic and financial challenges now
facing the Egyptian economy," Masood Ahmed, the IMF's director
for Middle East and Central Asia, said in a statement.

He said a technical team will visit Egypt in coming weeks to
discuss a possible IMF loan.

Egypt first struck an agreement for a stand-by loan with the
IMF in November, but Cairo postponed the formal end of the deal
last month because of new political confrontations and protests.

Analysts view the IMF loan as critical to give Egypt's
Islamist government credibility with the markets. The Egyptian
pound hit a series of record lows against the dollar on Monday
as political turmoil is depleting the country's foreign