IMF welcomes urgent European aid to Greece

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2011 (AFP) - The IMF welcomed Europe's urgent aid to save Greece from default, after eurozone finance ministers cleared the way Saturday for the debt-hit nation to receive 12 billion euros by mid-July.

"We welcome the eurogroup's commitment to a financing strategy that ensures the Greek economic program is fully covered," chief International Monetary Fund spokeswoman Caroline Atkinson said in a statement.

"This commitment -- together with the recent parliamentary passage of the necessary fiscal measures in Greece -- will enable the IMF's executive board to consider the completion of the fourth review and the release of the next tranche under the current stand-by arrangement with Greece."

Greece is expected to receive 12 billion euros from the eurozone and IMF by July 15 after the ministers approved the fifth tranche of aid from last year's 110-billion-euro ($160 billion) financial rescue package.

The IMF is due to clear its slice of the next installment, 3.3 billion euros, next week. The eurozone's share amounts to 8.7 billion euros.

Atkinson said the IMF looks forward to supporting the economic program that will "contribute to restoring fiscal sustainability, safeguarding financial sector stability, and boosting competitiveness to create the conditions for sustained growth and employment."

The Greek parliament responded to EU and IMF demands this week by passing 28.4 billion euros in budget cuts and tax hikes, along with a 50-billion-euro privatization program, despite rioting in the streets of Athens.

European diplomats said the eurozone finance chiefs would discuss the second bailout again on July 11 in Brussels, but that a decision will likely have to wait until September.

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