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Imran Khan to meet IMF chief for talks on Pakistan bailout

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan speak to the nation in his first televised address in Islamabad, Pakistan, on August 19, 2018. (Reuters)

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to meet the chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to discuss issues that have interrupted bailout negotiations, an official says.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Saturday that Khan would meet IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on the sidelines of a summit in Dubai on Sunday.

"This will give us a chance to understand the IMF views and we will be able to give our version to (Lagarde)," Chaudhry said.

The minister, who will accompany Khan to Dubai along with Finance Minister Asad Umar, said Pakistan wants any agreed bailout package to be its last such economic rescue by the Washington-based IMF.

"The problem is not the (IMF) deal, the problem is the condition attached to the deal."

"We don't want conditions that hurt Pakistan's growth prospects. We want a fair deal that can actually help Pakistan in the short term, without affecting our long-term economic goals."

The file photo, taken and released by the International Monetary Fund on October 11, 2018, shows IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, left, greeting Pakistani Finance Minister Asad Umar at the Bali Convention Center during the 2018 IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. (AFP)

Officials had expected the talks to conclude last November but they have been delayed due to concerns on the side of the Pakistani government that the program could derail Khan's plans for his term in office. The IMF's demands could threaten Khan’s campaign promise to build an Islamic welfare state.

Last October, Khan said the country might need to return to the IMF to address its mounting balance of payments crisis and economic woes. Pakistan has in the meantime sought financial assistance from some so-called friendly countries to ease the pressure on its dwindling foreign currency reserves.

Any IMF bailout would likely include conditions to curb government spending.

Pakistan's growth expectations slashed for the current fiscal year to about four percent from six percent previously forecast.

The country is seeking its 13th bailout since the late 1980s.

Khan has repeatedly blamed the previous government for the economic situation and repeated a promise to recover billions of dollars he says corrupt officials have stashed abroad. “Pakistan is suffering huge internal and external debt ... caused by corruption of the former rulers.”

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