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IMF Chief Pushes Loan in Talks with Argentine President - 2003-06-24

The head of the International Monetary Fund is in Argentina meeting with President Nestor Kirchner. Horst Koehler is working with the Argentine government in hopes of helping it solve its devastating economic crisis. Since the economy collapsed 18 months ago, millions of Argentines have lost their jobs and sunk deep below the poverty line.

IMF Managing Director Horst Koehler is in Argentina for the first time since the country defaulted on $95 billion in debt in December 2001.

Local reports say that Mr. Koehler is pushing for a three-year loan that would allow time for new President Nestor Kirchner to reform the country's banking systems and renegotiate foreign debt. President Kirchner has been critical of the IMF and many others here blame the institution for Argentina's current economic troubles.

During the 1990s Argentina was viewed as a model student of the IMF, but when government corruption sent the economy into a tailspin, the IMF took a hard-line approach and offered no significant aid to Latin America's third largest economy.

After a year of negotiations, Argentina and the IMF inked a deal to rollover payment on some $7 billion dollars in debt. Argentine officials are still working to meet the terms of that deal, which expires in August.