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Ireland Aims to Be First to Exit International Bailout

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Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny says Ireland is aiming to be the first to exit its international bailout and resume financing its government operations on its own.

Kenny told an international economic forum Friday in Dublin that Ireland is recovering and will soon no longer have to rely on foreign assistance. He said financial service companies will, in time, give the country a better credit rating.

Ireland was forced last year to secure a $90 billion bailout from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. But unlike in Greece and Portugal - the other two European countries that needed bailouts - Ireland's economy is quickly improving from a three-year recession.

The Irish leader said that of the three countries, "Ireland leads by example."

Kenny said Ireland expects to meet its 2011 budget deficit target of 10.6 percent of the country's economic output set by its international creditors. He said the interest rate on the country's loans has been sharply cut, down from more than 14 percent in July to under 8 percent.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose countries have Europe's two strongest economies, will meet Sunday to discuss the next steps in dealing with its debt crisis.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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