Greece demands IMF explanation over leaked debt transcript

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

Greece demanded an explanation from the International Monetary Fund after an apparent leaked transcript suggested the IMF may threaten to pull out of the country’s bailout as a tactic to force European lenders to offer more debt r elief .

EU/IMF lenders will resume talks on Greece’s fiscal and reform progress in Athens on Monday, aiming to conclude a bailout review that will unlock further loans and pave the way for negotiations on long-desired debt restructuring .

The review has been adjourned twice since January due to a rift among the lenders over the estimated size of Greece’s fiscal gap by 2018, as well as disagreements with Athens on pension reforms and the management of bad loans.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s office said on Sunday that Tsipras had asked IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde to clarify the Fund’s stance, after Internet whistleblowing site WikiLeaks published what it said was the transcript of a March 19 conference call of three senior IMF officials.

The officials were discussing tactics to apply pressure on Greece, Germany and the EU to reach a deal in April. They were quoted as discussing a threat that the fund might not participate in Greece’s third bailout program as a way to force EU creditors, especially Germany, to reach a deal on debt relief before Britain’s June referendum on whether to stay in the European Union.

“He (Tsipras) sent a letter to Lagarde last night, asking her to clarify the Fund’s official stance in the negotiations,” an official at Tsipras’ office told Reuters. “He also expressed his concern about the credibility of the negotiations after the leaks.”

An IMF spokesman in Washington said on Saturday that the Fund was not commenting on “leaks or supposed reports of internal discussions” but added the IMF had made its position known in public.

“We have stated clearly what we think is needed for a durable solution to the economic challenges facing Greece – one that puts Greece on a path of sustainable growth supported by a credible set of reforms matched by debt relief from its European partners,” the spokesman said .
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German government and finance ministry spokespeople declined to comment on the leaked transcript.

Germany has in the past said the IMF is an important player in the Greek rescue but it does not support the debt relief demanded by the IMF. Some German officials also say that they believe there are different views on Greece within the IMF.

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