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Financing issues main obstacle on Greek talks-IMF

WASHINGTON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday financing issues remained the main obstacle for debt-laden Greece to receive more bailout money from its international lenders.

Near-bankrupt Greece must push through spending cuts and tax measures worth 13.5 billion euros as well as a raft of economic reforms to satisfy its IMF and European Union lenders and secure a next tranche of aid.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said progress had been made and an agreement could come ``soon,'' but discussions continued about the sustainability of Greece's debt.

``The financing for the program has to be consistent with debt sustainability,'' he told reporters at a briefing in Washington.

The ``troika'' of Greece's lenders - the IMF, European Central Bank and European Union - is readying a debt sustainability analysis and pondering ways to plug a financing gap if Greece were to reach a primary surplus.

The options included lengthening the maturities and reducing the interest rate on existing loans, an interest payment holiday, letting Greece buy back its own debt at a discount with borrowed money and allowing it to issue more short-term T-bills.

According to its mandate, the IMF cannot allow lower interest rates on its existing loan to Greece. But Rice said a debt buy-back would be an option, as long as it was actually a ``meaningful reduction'' in Greek debt.

Rice also commented on the IMF's program to Cyprus, another European country that requested a bailout. He said the IMF could visit the country soon to further discuss financial aid, but no date had been set yet.