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Argentine Congress Passes Deal to End Long-running Debt Standoff

Lawmakers debate a deal with a group of U.S. creditors that would put an end to a years-long dispute that has kept the South American nation on the margins of international credit markets, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, March 30, 2016.

Argentine lawmakers have approved a deal that would repay billions of dollars to the country's foreign creditors, ending a 15-year legal battle that had made the South American country a global financial pariah.

The Senate approved the plan by a vote of 54-16 early Thursday morning after 14 hours of debate. The deal calls for Buenos Aires to pay nearly $5 billion to resolve claims made by a group of U.S.-based creditors that held billions of dollars in Argentine government bonds, which the nation defaulted on in 2001. The creditors refused to accept newer bonds offered by Argentina in 2005 and 2010 that were worth far less, and successfully sued the government in U.S. federal court to renegotiate the debt.

But former President Cristina Fernandez refused to negotiate with the creditors, denouncing them as "vultures." The default and the lengthy court battle locked Buenos Aires out of international credit markets.

Argentina's lower legislative branch approved the debt repayment plan earlier this month.

The deal is a boost for President Mauricio Macri, who succeeded Fernandez last December. Macri's promises to resolve the dispute were a central plank in his platform to revive one of Latin America's largest economies.