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PARIS (AP) _ The Paris Club of creditor nations on Friday agreed to restructure payment on $8.98 billion of debt owed by the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Of the total, 16 percent of the relief is in the form of development assistance loans.

These measures will reduce debt service due to Paris Club creditors to around $380 million for the period between June 30, 2002 and June 30, 2005, from around $9.09 billion.

The restructured debt comprises $8.490 billion of arrears in principal and interest as of June 30, 2002, and $490 million of principal and interest due from July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2005.

The agreement will lead to an immediate cancellation of about $4.640 billion of the country's commercial credits up to June 30, 2005, and the rescheduling over 40 years, with a 16-year grace period, of the development assistance loans taken up to that date.

This figure makes up 67 percent of the country's commercial debt to the Paris Club for the period covered.

The remaining amount has been rescheduled over 23 years, with a six-year grace period at market interest rates.

Paris Club creditors have agreed to increase the debt cancellation from 67 percent to 90 percent as soon as the Democratic Republic of Congo fulfills certain debt-to-export ratio criteria.