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Argentina in deal with Paris Club to pay $10bn debts

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Argentina has reached an agreement with the Paris Club group of international creditor governments to repay its overdue debts over a five-year period.

The deal covers Argentine arrears of some $9.7bn (£5.8bn).

The government of President Cristina Kirchner said in 2008 that it wanted to pay back the debt inherited from the country's 2001-02 default crisis.

During the last weeks of 2001 the Argentine government defaulted on public debt totalling $132bn.

In a statement, the Paris Club said a first instalment of at least $1.15bn was due by May 2015. The next payment will then be due by May 2016.

Analysis - Robert Plummer, BBC Business reporter

Argentina has travelled a long and tortuous road to reach this landmark agreement with its main outstanding creditors.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner initially pledged to pay the country's debt to the Paris Club in one go back in 2008, but scarce foreign exchange reserves forced her to put that promise on ice. Negotiations on repayment resumed in November 2010.

But the root of the problem goes further back, to Argentina's 2001-02 economic meltdown, which saddled the country with a $102bn debt default. Since then, it has been unable to borrow on the international markets.

This latest deal, which clears its slate with 19 of the world's largest economies, could pave the way for the government to raise new loans.

Yet it still faces further claims from so-called "vulture funds", representing hold-outs from previous debt swap deals who are pressing for the full face value of their bond holdings.

"Realisation of initial payment under a formal commitment of Argentina to fully clear its arrears is a necessary and important step for the normalisation of financial relationships between Paris Club creditors and Argentina," the Paris Club said.

"During the meeting, the delegation of the Argentine Republic provided a description of the economic and financial situation of its country and presented the measures implemented by the Argentine Government aimed at enhancing inclusive growth and strengthening resilience to external shocks."

The Paris Group also said the agreement allowed for credit agencies to resume doing business with Argentina.

Argentina was represented in the negotiations by Finance Minister Axel Kicillof.

The Paris Club was formed in 1956. It is an informal group of creditor governments from major industrialised countries.

Germany is Argentina's biggest Paris Club creditor with about 30% of the debt, followed by Japan with about 25%. Other debt holders include the Netherlands, Spain, Italy. Switzerland and the US.

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