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IMF delegation to arrive in Egypt

An IMF delegation will arrive in Egypt on Wednesday for talks with the government on a $4.8 billion loan, a government spokesman said on Sunday, as Cairo seeks to conclude a deal vital to easing a deep economic crisis. Egypt would not seek any emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund and faced no "crisis" in funding the import of essential commodities, spokesman Alaa El Hadidi added. The most populous Arab country has been seeking a loan from the Fund to ease economic strains after two years of political upheaval. Reserves of foreign currency have fallen to critically low levels, threatening Egypt's ability to import essential supplies of fuel and wheat. President Mohamed Mursi's government initialed a deal with the IMF last November but postponed final ratification in December in the face of unrest triggered by a political row over the extent of his powers.
 
Hadidi, seeking to allay public concerns over power cuts and long queues at petrol stations, ruled out an emergency loan, as suggested by the IMF. He added that the country was still able to buy essential imports.
 
"(The supply) of wheat and loaves of bread is safe," he told reporters. He added that indications of a higher harvest this year meant Egypt would use locally-grown wheat in the place of wheat that would otherwise have been imported.
 
He played down as "speculation" repeated media reports that Egypt was seeking aid from Arab states Libya and Iraq. "Egypt seeks to boost investment from these countries and an opening of their labor markets (for Egyptians)," Hadidi said.

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