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IMF chief urges Greece to carry out reform

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ATHENS, Jan 20 AFP

January 21 2013, 01:22AM

No additional measures would be necessary for Greece if it carries out the reforms under its bailout program, IMF chief Christine Lagarde says.

"But if the structural reforms are not carried out ... then more cuts would be necessary," the head of the International Monetary Fund has told the Greek newspaper Kathimerini in an interview.

Entering a sixth year straight of recession, the heavily indebted country is relying on EU-IMF bailout packages.

It also received a private-sector debt cut early last year.

Since 2010, the EU and IMF have committed 240 billion euros ($A307 billion) in rescue loans to Greece, while last week the IMF unblocked a frozen tranche of 3.2 billion euros from its pending aid package.

"Greece holds its future in its own hands ... It is up to the country itself to succeed in its program," Lagarde said.

The IMF chief said she had a very good working relationship with both the Greek prime minister and finance minister.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and I "have a very good and honest relationship", she said, adding that he has even "surprised" her with his stance following his election.

Lagarde also said she believed the co-existence of three different parties in Greece's coalition government is beneficial.

"Regarding the implementation of the program and the responsibilities towards the people, a wide coalition is much more important than a tight majority," she said.

Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's coalition government has lost 16 deputies since coming to power in June, as a result of opposition to continued austerity.

It now counts a majority of 163 seats out of an overall 300.

On Friday, the IMF's mission chief for Greece Poul Thomsen said the country will still need additional help from its European partners next year.