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Greek Debt Swap Must Be Voluntary for Bondholders, IIF Says

An aid package from European finance ministers to ease terms for emergency aid to Greece including plans for the country to buy back its debt must have the consent of private investors, the Institute of International Finance said.

The IIF, in charge of negotiating the terms of a debt-swap deal with private bondholders, said in a statement that it’s “critical that any buyback be conducted on a purely voluntary basis.”

The package is intended to lower bilateral lending rates and return profits generated by participating in the 100 billion-euro ($130 billion) Greek bailout to the country. The International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission, implementing the bailout, have indicated they will insist on a buyback as one of the conditions for the release of the next installment of its cash.

Progress in aiding Greece would be enhanced by a resolution of the U.S. fiscal cliff, where the expiration of tax cuts and government spending programs at year-end threaten to upend economic growth in the world’s largest economy, the Washington-based IIF said.

Gridlock over an agreement to avert $607 billion in automatic spending cuts and tax increases is hurting business confidence and denting investment, the IIF said. It urged U.S. lawmakers to “implement credible fiscal consolidation in a medium-term framework to bring both the U.S. deficit and debt positions under control.”

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