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Egypt aid talks making progress: IMF

imf--WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund's extension of talks with Egyptian authorities is a sign of progress on Egypt's loan request, an IMF spokesman said Thursday.

 

The IMF mission in Cairo to weigh providing more than $4 billion in financial support for the Egyptian government was supposed to wind up Thursday, but the talks are now to continue for several more days.

 

"I can't really be precise about when those discussions will conclude, but it's a sign of progress," to IMF spokesman Bill Murray said at a regularly scheduled news briefing.

 

On Wednesday, an IMF spokeswoman told AFP that the mission has been "working closely with" the Egyptian authorities on their economic program.

 

"The mission will remain in Cairo for a few more days to continue its work and build on the good progress already made," she said.

 

Egyptian Finance Minister Mumtaz Said said last week that Egypt may reach a loan deal with the IMF next month for $4.5 billion, instead of the $4.8 billion requested.

 

The aid would be aimed at supporting an economy left battered by the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak's regime.

 

Political instability has hammered Egypt's major revenue earner, tourism, and has led to a drop in foreign investments, worsened the budget deficit and sparked social conflict.

 

The central bank's currency reserves plunged, threatening Egypt's ability to import commodities and support the Egyptian pound.

 

On Wednesday, the European Union and Egyptian authorities announced the EU had approved a 5.0 billion euro ($6.4 billion) financial aid package for Egypt.

 

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012