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UPDATE 1-Argentine president seeks to stamp authority on IMF debt talks

·1 min read

(Adds quotes, context, background)

MEXICO CITY, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Argentine President AlbertoFernandez on Tuesday said he would oversee brokering a deal withthe International Monetary Fund (IMF) over debt, asserting hisauthority after reports that his powerful vice president wasseeking to delay an accord.

Argentina has spent months in talks with the IMF torestructure a loan secured by Fernandez's predecessor, MauricioMacri, to tackle a severe economic crisis in the country.

Speaking at a news conference during a visit to Mexico City,Fernandez said he wanted to be "very careful" in his talks withthe IMF, suggesting that the 2018 loan was issued in a bid tohelp safeguard his rival Macri's hold on power.

Comments by senior officials have raised concerns aboutArgentina's willingness to reach terms. The Financial Timesreported earlier this month that Argentine Vice PresidentCristina Fernandez de Kirchner was seeking to push back anagreement until after the coronavirus pandemic was over.

Fernandez defended his vice-president, herself a formerpresident, saying much of the Argentine media tried to depicther as "a disruptive and crazy person" bent on pursuingsolutions that did little to benefit the country.

"That's a problem that I and the economy minister have toresolve, and obviously Cristina has an opinion, and obviously Ilisten to her, but it's my decision," Fernandez said.

"We want to reach a deal, but it needs to be a deal that isright for Argentina and it needs to be a deal that departs fromthe premise (that) we are dealing with a crazy loan that theInternational Monetary Fund gave to a country for politicalpurposes that didn't make any economic sense," he added.(Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom; Writing by Dave Graham;Editing by Dan Grebler)