September 13, 2012 / 3:11 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-IMF talks with Greece focused on current program - spokesman

WASHINGTON, Sept 13 (Reuters) - International Monetary Fund talks with Greece are focused on getting the current bailout program back on track, an IMF spokesman said on Thursday, when asked about the possibility of a third bailout program.

“We’re talking about getting the current program back on track,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters at a regularly scheduled briefing.

Rice was being asked about a Dow Jones story quoting an IMF official who said Greece will need a third bailout package from the euro zone in order to avoid default.

“Greece will require additional financing, which may take the form either of Official Sector Involvement or of additional loans, hopefully on more favorable terms,” Thanos Catsambas, an alternate executive director, who represents Greece at the IMF’s board, said in an interview on Thursday.

Rice said he hadn’t seen the story.

But “in any program, we’re looking for two things: debt sustainability and financing assurance. The discussions in Athens going on right now are focused on how we can get there,” Rice said, adding it would be inappropriate to speculate beyond that.

Senior EU officials told Reuters as long ago as July that Greece would not be able to pay what it owes and further debt restructuring was likely to be necessary.

A number of euro zone officials said European policymakers were working on “last chance” options to bring Greece’s debts down and keep it in the euro zone, with the ECB and national central banks looking at taking significant losses on the value of their bond holdings - so-called official sector involvement.

Inspectors from the troika of European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund lenders are in Athens on a visit that will determine whether the country gets crucial further aid under its latest bailout program.

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