IMF nears $1.7 billion loan payout to Ukraine

Hated in Athens and brushed off by the Europeans, the International Monetary Fund approaches the next round of negotiations with Greece in a delicate position (AFP Photo/Yuri Gripas)

Washington (AFP) - The International Monetary Fund said Thursday that its Ukraine mission had reached agreement with Kiev authorities on the steps needed to release $1.7 billion in much-needed bailout funds to the government.

The mission has been reviewing the country's reform achievements since the IMF awarded Ukraine a new four-year, $17.5 billion support program in March and released the first tranche of funds.

The second fund release will come once an agreed set of actions, which the IMF did not divulge, "are completed and the conditions are in place for staff to assess that public debt is sustainable with high probability and the program is fully financed," the IMF said in a statement.

The release is also subject to approval by IMF management and the executive board, it added.

The IMF originally conditioned its aid program on the country achieving a deal with private creditors that would reduce its debt payment burden by $15 billion over the coming four years.

But with those negotiations still ongoing, the IMF has said it could go ahead and release funds to the country even if Kiev defaults on the private lenders.

After meeting at the IMF headquarters in Washington earlier this week, Ukraine officials and the private creditors' committee said Wednesday that they had reached agreement to launch good-faith and confidential negotiations on restructuring the country's debt next week.

They pledged an objective "of concluding an agreement on the terms of the debt operation as soon as possible."