Argentina leader slams IMF, others over debt

Nestor Kirchner criticised the IMF on Tuesday after reports the Fund might delay aid payments to Argentina over the government's hard-line stance as it restructures privately held debt. The Argentine president said he would not cave in to pressure to increase future payments.

Argentine President Nestor Kirchner has said that he would not cave in to pressure to increase future payments on his country's defaulted debt.

His comments came after reports the International Monetary Fund might delay aid payments to Argentina because they are unhappy at the government's hard-line stance as it restructures $88 billion in privately held debt.

"We will not accept any pressure, open or hidden, to increase payments abroad," Kirchner said in a speech published on the government's Web site (www.presidencia.gov.ar). The speech was made in Uruguay on Tuesday at a summit of the Mercosur trade bloc.

Despite suffering an economic crash from late-2001, Argentina kept up payments on about $31 billion in debt held by multilateral organizations.

But it halted payments on $88 billion in privately-held debt, cutting itself off from most international credit and making the IMF one of Argentina's few financial lifelines.

Angry creditors now want almost three times more debt back than Argentina is offering them. Argentina, which has a reputation of jilting foreign investors through years of economic downturn, has told creditors: take it or leave it.

Local media and The Wall Street Journal this month have said that stance so worried the IMF, which for years has pushed an unenthusiastic Argentina to implement investor-friendly reforms, that it could delay payments from a $12.55 billion loan approved in September.

"Despite evident achievements and despite our will to go forward, we are suffering today from the lack of definitions and delays on the part of international financial organizations that are not helping this process," the left-leaning Kirchner said.

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