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By Marc Jones and George Georgiopoulos
NICOSIA, May 10 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund is likely to take part in the financing of Greece’s third bailout, Slovakia’s finance minister, Peter Kazimir, said on Wednesday.
Greece agreed earlier this month on further spending cuts to qualify for additional support. In return, it wants measures to ease the strain of its debt, which now stands at 179 percent of gross domestic product.
The IMF also backs debt relief but is reluctant to participate in further funding without an agreement to ease the Greek burden which is says is unsustainable.. It has not yet committed to supporting the latest agreement.
Speaking at the EBRD’s annual meeting in Cyprus, Kazimir said the IMF’s involvement was crucial for euro zone governments, who might approve the next package of aid by next month.
”It seems to me that yes, finally (the IMF join in),“ Kazmir said. ”Then we have to congratulate (IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde that she managed to convince the board to do it.
“This amount is not important. (But) the IMF must be on board with technical assistance,” he said.
Asked about the IMF’s current position, a spokeswoman for the fund pointed to comments made last week by its European department director, Poul Thomsen, that specific debt relief measures are still needed for the IMF board to consider participating.
Kazimir said it was not the time, however, to discuss it. The euro zone has long maintained it would only consider debt relief for Greece after 2018.
The Greek government is pressing for at least an outline of medium-term measures after reaching the long-awaited agreement on a package of bailout-mandated reforms with its creditors last week.
Asked about the measures Greece wants, Kazimir said: “We just agreed that this issue will be raised in 2018. This is not our role to meet domestic political requirements ... The roadmap is quite clear. It is not the time now.” (editing by Jeremy Gaunt)