IMF official: The risk of a Greek exit from the Eurozone should not be underestimated

Emma Haslett
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Thomsen said there was a need for negotiations between Greece and the IMF to "gain notably further momentum" (Source: Getty)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) "doesn't expect a Greek exit from the euro", Poul Thomsen, one of its top officials, said a press conference today. However, he added that risks of a Grexit should "not be underestimated".

The press conference came just over a day after the FT reported the IMF had "persuaded" the Greek government not to make an official request to delay debt repayments due over the next few weeks.

Although the Greek government has come under intense pressure to come up with reforms which its lenders - the IMF and the European Commission - can agree to in order to unlock a €7.2bn (£5.2bn) tranche of cash it urgently needs, so far finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has come under fire for proposing measures such as war repatriations from Germany.

On Wednesday night, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Varoufakis' demands were "completely unrealistic", adding that although restructuring its debts might be viable in 10 years' time, "today the issue for Greece is reforming its economy in such a way that it becomes competitive at some point".

But this afternoon Thomsen admitted there was "undoubtedly a need for the negotiations to gain notably further momentum".

He added that the IMF will do what it can to ensure Greece stays as part of the Eurozone.

"Greece remaining in the eurozone is clearly our baseline scenario."

The press conference took place as finance ministers met with IMF leaders in Washington, DC. Earlier today, IMF chief Christine Lagarde praised the way the UK government had turned around the economy, saying its strategy was "clearly delivering results".

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