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Egypt Requests IMF Loan, Talks to Begin Soon, Atkinson Says

May 12 (Bloomberg) -- Egypt has asked the International Monetary Fund for financial assistance as it seeks to meet $12 billion in financing needs through June 2012.

“We expect that an IMF team will visit Cairo shortly to begin the discussions with the Egyptian authorities,” IMF director of external relations Caroline Atkinson told reporters in Washington today. She didn’t say how much money Egypt is seeking from the agency.

The turmoil that accompanied the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February may slow economic growth to 1 percent this year, according to the IMF, the lowest annual rate since 1992. At the same time, an increase in food prices, one of the catalysts for the anti-Mubarak revolt, quickened inflation to 11.5 percent in March from 10.7 percent the month before.

Egyptian Finance Minister Samir Radwan said April 18 the country needs between $3 billion and $4 billion from the IMF for the remainder of the fiscal year through June and the following 12 months, according to state-run Middle East News Agency.

The economy is still reeling under the effects of Egypt’s uprising, which saw tourists flee the country, foreign investors dump Egyptian government debt and factory output hit by protests and strikes.

Separately, Atkinson declined to comment on potential changes to the aid package to Greece that the IMF agreed to with European authorities last year. She reiterated that the IMF is open to the idea of extending maturities on its portion of the loan.

She also said the review of the Irish economy under a joint loan with the European Union will be discussed by the IMF board May 16, adding that the Irish program “is on track,” even though there are “difficult challenges” for the economy.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sandrine Rastello in Washington at srastello@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net.

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