Iceland debt negotiations break down

ICELAND’S hopes of striking a new deal on repaying vast sums to Britain and the Netherlands were dealt a setback yesterday when the island’s Dutch creditors said no fresh negotiations were underway.

Iceland’s president refused last week to sign a bill setting out terms for repaying more than $5bn (£3.19bn) owed to the two countries, forcing the government to call a public vote on the issue and threatening aid for the cash-strapped nation.

A spokesman for Iceland’s prime minister said earlier the country had been holding “frantic talks” with ministers in the Nordics, Britain, the Netherlands and the European Union on Icesave hoping to avoid a divisive referendum on the issue.

But the Dutch said they still expected Iceland to stick to the Icesave deal it made in October. “For us at this stage there is no renegotiation going on,” a Dutch ministry spokeswoman said.

Britain said it was continuing to talk to the Icelandic government about resolving the situation. “We expect Iceland to live up to its obligations,” a Treasury spokesman said.

Although Iceland clung onto the possibility of a new round of talks on the Icesave issue, the government admitted it was running short of time.