IMF assures help for Greece to get rid of debt

"The Greek citizen shouldn't fear the IMF," Strauss-Kahn told reporters after a meeting of the IMF's steering committee in Washington. "We are there to try to help them." Strauss-Kahn met earlier on Saturday with Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou after Athens on Friday called on the European Union and IMF to implement an aid package worth a combined $60 billion to help it avoid defaulting on its massive debts.

Papaconstantinou also met with US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who on Friday welcomed the renewed "sense of urgency" being paid to Greece's financial woes, which have caused unease across global markets the past few months.

Yet some in Greece have been reluctant to accept the IMF's help, harking back to the crisis lender's past reputation of pushing for draconian cuts in popular social programmes to bring country's fiscal positions back under control. Egyptian Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, who chairs the IMF's steering committee, said the IMF had learned from past mistakes and urged Greece to give the institution "the benefit of the doubt".

Greek officials have been meeting throughout the last week with the EU, IMF and European Central Bank. Strauss-Kahn would not offer specifics on the loan until the negotiations were completed, but said it would be tailored to Greece's needs. "The programme has to be adapted to the particular circumstances of the country," Strauss-Kahn said. "Those circumstances are exactly what we are discussing with the authorities today".

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