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Argentina heads into default as debt talks fail
World | business | 10:17, 31 July 2014 | 552

AKIPRESS.COM - PANews+BT_P-465b410c-fa1b-4e31-970e-9e0a1541fd01_I1 Talks aimed at averting Argentina's second default in 13 years has ended with bitter recriminations as the South American country said it could not accept a deal with US hedge fund creditors it dismisses as "vultures".

Court-appointed mediator Daniel Pollack said the failure triggered an imminent default that, among other things, would hurt the Argentine economy as well as bondholders who were not part of the dispute, the Associated Press reports.

"The full consequences of default are not predictable, but they are certainly not positive," he said.

A US court ruling previously blocked Argentina from making 539 million dollars (£319m) in interest payments due by midnight yesterday to other bondholders who separately agreed to restructuring plans with the country in 2005 and 2010.

Argentine economy minister Axel Kicillof emerged from the New York meeting with creditors and the mediator with an air of defiance, saying his government could find no middle ground.

"We're not going to sign an agreement that jeopardises the future of all Argentines," he said. "Argentines can remain calm because tomorrow will just be another day and the world will keep on spinning."

There was no immediate comment from the hedge funds, which refused to participate in the debt restructurings and won a US court judgment that they be paid the full value of their bonds plus interest - now estimated at about 1.5 billion dollars (£887m).

Mr Kicillof said the funds refused a compromise offer to settle their claim, although he gave no details of that proposal.

He said the funds would also not agree to a stay of the court order to allow Argentina to make the interest payments by last night's deadline and avert economic uncertainty for investors and citizens of the country, which is struggling with recession, a shortage of dollars and one of the world's highest inflation rates.

Mr Kicillof dismissed a decision by ratings agency Standard & Poor's to downgrade Argentina's foreign currency credit rating to "selective default" because of the missed interest payments.

"Who believes in the ratings agencies? Who thinks they are impartial referees of the financial system?" he said.

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