IMF deputy spokesman William Murray reiterated the funds position that it cannot participate in the Greek programme unless the issue of debt relief is resolved by the country’s creditors.

Murray was responding to a reporter’s question about incoming Eurogroup president Mario Centeno’s remark that there are steps to be taken by Athens, which he did not specify, before discussion of debt relief can begin.

Murray indicated that there is no disagreement between the IMF’s position and Centeno’s statement.

Regarding debt relief, Murray said it is the fund’s position that an agreement can be reached soon regarding debt relief, as there has been substantial progress in informal discussion about the issue since 2015.

If that does not occur, the spokesman said, the IMF will not be able activate the 1.3 billion euro precautionary stand-by agreement announced in July, a type of safety credit line.

An IMF statement on 20 July stressed the debt relief issue and its linkage to continued involvement of the fund in the Greek programme.

“The [standby] arrangement, which supports the authorities’ economic adjustment program, has been approved in principle, which means it will become effective only after the Fund receives specific and credible assurances from Greece’s European partners to ensure debt sustainability, and provided that Greece’s economic program remains on track,” the statement underlined.

“A second Executive Board decision is needed to make the arrangement effective. The arrangement will expire on August 31, 2018, shortly after the expiration of the European Stability Mechanism program.”