WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States urged Ecuador on Monday to adopt a credible economic program and reach new arrangements with its creditors so it could obtain financial help from the International Monetary Fund.

A senior Treasury official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States could support an IMF loan for Ecuador only if the government makes meaningful progress in talks to reach new terms with its creditors.

Ecuadorian officials have already started what are likely to be protracted negotiations by meeting Monday with private sector creditors in New York during sessions organized by Chase Manhattan bank.

Ecuador announced Sunday it would default on slightly less than half of the $98 million in Brady bond payments due by Thursday. The market already had anticipated such a move so there was no negative reaction Monday and little danger of contagion spreading to other Latin American bonds or emerging market bonds.

``We have encouraged, and will continue to encourage, Ecuador to work with the IMF to put in place a strong and credible economic adjustment program that will addresses its financial problems and lay the basis for restored stability and growth,'' the Treasury official said.

``Such a program should provide the basis for Ecuador to work with its private creditors in a transparent and cooperative manner to reach arrangements that best satisfy their common interest i economic recovery and sustainable finances over the medium term,'' the official said.

Earlier Monday, the IMF said it would provide Ecuador with financial assistance if the country makes good-faith efforts with creditors to resolve debt difficulties. Ecuador is seeking $400 million in aid from the IMF.