Ireland, Portugal get seven-year bailout loan extension

DUBLIN (Reuters) - European Union finance ministers agreed on Friday to extend the maturities of emergency loans extended to Ireland and Portugal by the European Union by seven years to smooth out the two countries' return to markets.

The 17 finance ministers whose countries share the euro currency had agreed to the extension earlier on Friday, but because some loans were also granted by a fund backed by all 27 European union countries, the other 10 ministers had to give their approval too.

The euro zone loans were granted by the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) as well as the EU-backed European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM).

"Extensions of loans from the EFSM for Ireland and Portugal have been approved," one EU diplomat said.

(Reporting By Ecofin team; editing by John O'Donnell)