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Russians Still Hope To Get Loan

February 9, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia cannot agree to IMF conditions for new loans but a compromise could be reached soon, a senior Cabinet official said Tuesday.

First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov said the talks with the International Monetary Fund have been ``very hard,″ but added that both sides are ``moving toward each other.″ He said the next round of talks will be successful.

An IMF mission left Russia on Saturday after the Cabinet failed to deliver a promised memorandum on economic policies. Fund officials said no date had been set for the mission’s return.

Maslyukov, who is in charge of Russia’s talks with the IMF, said he expects IMF chief Michel Camdessus to visit Moscow Feb. 18-20, news reports said.

Russia is seeking about $5 billion from the IMF, mostly to help pay off some $16.8 billion in existing IMF loans.

The IMF has urged the government to start implementing a viable economic program as the main condition for resuming aid put on hold after Russia devalued its currency and defaulted on some debts in August.

It has criticized the government’s budget for this year as unrealistic and suggested further spending cuts.

Maslyukov balked at those demands Tuesday, saying that the government can’t cut spending any further.

``The IMF wants more guarantees, and we want to have a real budget,″ he told reporters. ``They want us to boost revenues and minimize spending, but that would affect people’s basic needs.″

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