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Greek PM says IMF to close its Athens offices within months

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The International Monetary Fund will close its offices in Athens in coming months, a decade after it joined in a huge bailout program that kept Greece afloat, Greece's prime minister said Tuesday.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece would continue to cooperate with the IMF, but "as a country that has exited the IMF's strict surveillance framework." The planned move is seen as symbolic confirmation of the country's return to financial respectability.

Mitsotakis spoke following a meeting in Washington with the fund's new managing director, Kristalina Georgieva.

Greece required three bailouts from its partners in the eurozone and the IMF starting in 2010, to avoid going bust. This became necessary after the country found itself unable to borrow in international money markets, following revelations that it had under-reported key financial data for years.

The bailout programs ended in August 2018, and the country has regained market access after a painful eight-year effort to right its finances - the rescue money came with strict conditions. During the bailout era, Greece saw unemployment spike sharply higher, while incomes were repeatedly slashed and taxes hiked.

Athens is still subject to post-bailout surveillance by its creditors.

Last year, Greece made an early repayment of some of its loans from the IMF, and the government says a further portion of the IMF loans will be repaid early later this year.

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