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IMF set to continue support Greece after election

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The International Monetary Fund on Monday said it was prepared to continue its financial support of Greece, a day after an election swept in the leftist, anti-austerity party Syriza.

[WASHINGTON] The International Monetary Fund on Monday said it was prepared to continue its financial support of Greece, a day after an election swept in the leftist, anti-austerity party Syriza.

"We stand ready to continue supporting Greece, and look forward to discussions with the new government," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a brief statement.

The IMF has been a partner with the European Union in a multi-billion euro financial rescue of Greece since 2010.

The opposition Syriza, which won a resounding victory in Sunday's general election, opposes the austerity program Greece accepted in exchange for the bailout, and plans to renegotiate the deal, including a possible renegotiation of the country's debt.

Newly elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will govern in a coalition with the nationalist Independent Greeks party after securing 149 seats in the election, two short of the required majority in the 300-seat parliament.

Tsipras's first priority will be to deliver on his pledge to renegotiate the terms of the country's massive 240-billion-euro (US$269 billion) EU-IMF bailout despite universal opposition from Greece's European allies.

Syriza pledges to raise salaries and pensions, halt layoffs and freeze the privatization of state assets, reversing key reforms demanded by the IMF-EU creditors.

Sunday's poll was Greece's fourth in five turbulent years. During that time the economy has shrunk by a quarter and unemployment has soared beyond 25 per cent.

In late December the IMF suspended talks on a new disbursement of financial aid to Greece until the new government was formed after the January elections.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said that the holdup in the program would not impact the country's finances in the short term. "Greece faces no immediate financing needs," he said.

The sixth review of the IMF's four-year, US$35 billion loan program for Greece, aims at ensuring the government is meeting particular budget and reform targets before releasing a new tranche of the loan.

AFP