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IMF debt figures on Greece 'outdated': Dijsselbloem

[THE HAGUE] Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Friday an IMF analysis on Greek debt restructuring was based on "outdated" figures, as he criticised comments by Greece's finance minister that a debt deal was "in the offing".

"The IMF analysis (on Greek debt) is based on outdated numbers and figures," said Mr Dijsselbloem, referring to a report released Thursday by the International Monetary Fund that said the EU may need to take losses of 53 billion euros on money it has lent to Greece.

That forecast was based on 2012 debt targets, but Greece's economic perspectives have only worsened since the radical left Syriza party took power in January, thus reducing the sustainability of the country's debt and increasing the need for a restructuring.

The IMF slashed its forecast for Greece's growth this year to zero, from 2.5 per cent, and warned it will need at least an additional 50 billion euros to stabilise its finances over the next three years.

The IMF - which along with the EU and ECB has lent Greece 240 billion euros since 2010 - also predicted any new bailout deal would rely more on Europe's largesse, including 36 billion euros from Brussels.

The IMF's forecast comes as Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told Irish national broadcaster RTE on Friday that a debt deal for Athens with its international creditors was "in the offing."

"Whether there is a 'Yes' or a 'No,' an agreement is in the offing," Mr Varoufakis said ahead of Sunday's crunch referendum on Greece's bailout terms.

But Mr Dijsselbloem shot down this statement.

"It's completely untrue. He (Varoufakis) is insinuating that there's still negotiations, that there's new suggestions and that they are almost complete," Mr Dijsselbloem told reporters after the weekly Dutch cabinet meeting.

"It's complete wishful thinking," Mr Dijsselbloem said.

AFP

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