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LUSAKA, Sept. 22 (Reuters) – The Zambian president is due to meet with officials from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, his spokesman said on Wednesday, as the southern African country tries to secure a loans to help him get out of a debt crisis.

President Hakainde Hichilema’s spokesman Anthony Bwalya in a statement from New York did not say when the meetings would take place.

In November, Zambia became the first African country to default on its sovereign debt during the COVID-19 pandemic after failing to meet payments of nearly $ 13 billion in international debt. About a quarter of this debt is held by China or Chinese entities through agreements surrounded by secrecy clauses, which complicates negotiations for IMF relief.

Hichilema is in the United States for the United Nations General Assembly. He won a landslide election victory in August, defeating incumbent President Edgar Lungu, and pledged to reduce the budget deficit, restore economic growth and review the mining policies of Africa’s second-largest copper producer. Read more

Its finance minister said last month that securing an IMF program was key to restoring creditors’ confidence and giving the government access to cheaper and longer financing.

Late Wednesday, the White House released some details of a meeting between the Zambian President and US Vice President Kamala Harris, saying the two had agreed to deepen their ties on issues such as health and pandemic preparedness.

“The vice president applauded President Hichilema’s emphasis on prioritizing necessary reforms and his efforts to stabilize and develop the Zambian economy,” the White House said.

Reporting by Chris Mfula; additional reporting by Kanishka Singh; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Bernadette Baum

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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