VALLETTA (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund will need satisfactory assurances from euro zone governments that Greek debt will be made sustainable before the Fund can join the latest, third bailout for Athens, the IMF said in a statement.
Greece and its international lenders agreed on Friday on the key elements of reforms to unlock new funds, and experts will now be sent to Athens to put the finishing touches to the deal, but Greece's debt will only be discussed once the reform plan is finished.
"We are at a point where we think there are good prospects for successfully concluding discussions on these outstanding policy issues during the next mission to Athens," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in a statement.
"Such an agreement on policies will have to be followed by discussions with euro area countries to ensure satisfactory assurances on a credible strategy to restore debt sustainability, before a program is presented to the IMF Executive Board," he said.
The IMF has long insisted that Greece needs substantial debt relief for its public finances to be sustainable while Germany and several other euro zone countries - the biggest lenders to Greece -- believe no debt relief may be needed if Athens maintains a high primary surplus for many years -- a scenario the IMF thinks is politically unrealistic.
Reporting By Jan Strupczewski