Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, said that eurozone creditors must provide considerably more detail on debt relief for Greece before the fund will take a decision to join the country’s bailout programme.

Recent talks on Athens’ aid programme are “heading in the right direction,” Ms Lagarde said at an event in Brussels, citing a deal struck between Greece and its creditors last week on tax and pensions reforms.

At the same time, she said difficult discussions on debt relief are still to come. Referring to debt relief ideas set out by eurozone governments in May last year, Ms Lagarde said:

We cannot be in the generality of having a range of things. We need to have a specificity of techniques and the modalities of how they would apply.

She said a May 2016 agreement addressed debt relief in “a sort of broad brushed” way with a “multiplicity” of options that mean it is still not clear what EU creditors intend to do.

Ms Lagarde insisted there could be no special treatment of Greece when it comes to any fund decision on joining the bailout.

“If and when I put a programme to the board of the IMF it will have to comply with the rules of any…programme,” she said. “There cannot be a specific case for any particular country.”

“The scope” of debt relief can be decided at the end of Greece’s aid programme in 2018, she said. Still, “the modalities…have to be decided upfront.”

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