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US Treasury Chief Urges Ukraine to Keep Working on Debt Restructuring

FILE - US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on the US government debt limit in Washington.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Tuesday encouraged Ukrainian leaders to keep working on restructuring their debt, saying IMF loans require everyone to make a "shared sacrifice."

Lew met in Washington Tuesday with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko. Both came to Washington to push the IMF to release the second installment of a $17.5 billion loan to Ukraine's struggling economy.

The IMF always demands that recipients of loans make sometimes painful economic reforms before paying out the money.

Yatsenyuk told the Atlantic Council in Washington Tuesday that his government has done everything it can to close the budget gap, including freezing social spending and cutting a number of entitlement programs. He said Ukraine still needs an enormous amount of financial support, calling its return to economic stability "the project of the free world."

Yatsenyuk called a healthy Ukraine the best answer to Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

The war against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has helped push the country to the brink of bankruptcy.

Washington plans to host a Ukrainian-American investment conference next month, looking to attract more badly needed dollars to Ukraine.