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Argentina Faces Deadline To Pay Multi-Billion Dollar IMF Debt - 2004-03-09

Argentina faces a deadline Tuesday to make a $3 billion debt payment to the International Monetary Fund.

The government has until the end of the IMF's work day in Washington to make the payment or be declared in default a second default in six months. That could cut off one of Argentina's last avenues of financial assistance and further isolate it from world markets.

Last year, Argentina defaulted on a $3 billion loan owed to the IMF, but eventually paid it after reaching a new long-term deal with the lender.

Argentine officials are threatening to withhold payment if IMF officials fail to give a clear indication they will approve an upcoming report on Argentina's economic progress. Approval of the report is a condition set by the lending institution for Argentina to receive a new $13 billion loan.

The IMF has been pressing Argentina to move quickly to restructure the nearly $100 billion in defaulted debt incurred in January 2002 during a period of economic and political turmoil in the country.

Argentine officials say they want creditors to accept a 75 percent reduction in the face value of the country's foreign debt, a proposal that has been strongly rejected by many creditors and the IMF.

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