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Eurozone ministers ink deals to combat crisis, rifts remain

(Xinhua)

18:07, November 30, 2011

BRUSSELS, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Eurozone finance ministers have agreed to expand a rescue fund and also approved aid packages for Greece and Ireland to contain the worsening euro crisis, but lingering differences remain among the bloc's 17 members.

With Italy's soaring borrowing costs and the potentially large bailout, the finance ministers agreed on Tuesday to beef up the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) through two approaches.

One is to allow the EFSF fund to guarantee 20 percent to 30 percent of potential losses incurred by investors who buy bonds of governments in financial trouble, and the other is to create a common investment fund to attract foreign investors to buy eurozone government bonds.

But market participants have feared that the fund would not reach the 1-trillion-euro (1.33-trillion-U.S.-dollar) amount that had been previously expected.

"We will have to look at the IMF (International Monetary Fund) which can also make available additional funds for the emergency fund. I think countries in Europe and outside of Europe should be prepared to give more money to the IMF," Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager told reporters.

Finance ministers have agreed on bilateral loans to increase the resources of the IMF to "adequately match the new firepower of the EFSF" and "cooperate more closely," Eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said.

The 17 finance ministers late Tuesday also approved the release of an 8-billion-euro (10.6-billion-dollar) aid payment to Greece, averting an imminent bankruptcy of the country, and granted a 4.2-billion-euro (5.6-billion-dollar) bailout loan to Ireland following a positive assessment of the country from international lenders.

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