IMF loan for Sri Lanka not appropriate right now: Clinton

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2009 (AFP) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said here Thursday it “is not an appropriate time” to consider a massive International Monetary Fund loan for Sri Lanka.

Clinton told reporters that the United States has been “trying to convince both sides,” the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger guerrillas, to stop fighting.

“We have also raised questions about the IMF loan at this time. We think that it is not an appropriate time to consider that (loan) until there is a resolution of the conflict,” Clinton added.

The United States is the main shareholder in the IMF and its approval is key to the release of the loan.

Clinton’s comments came two weeks after the IMF said talks with Sri Lanka for a bailout package of around two billion dollars were continuing despite reports the fund was under pressure to withold the planned financing.

News reports said US officials indicated that they want the IMF loan to Sri Lanka, aimed at helping the low-income Asian country cope with the global financial crisis, delayed to prod Colombo to step up aid to civilians.

The central bank in Colombo said at the time that an IMF mission was in Sri Lanka to t