Canada's Flaherty: Haiti needs a break on its debt

Sat Feb 6, 2010 5:19pm EST
 
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IQALUIT, Canada (Reuters) - Group of Seven countries have told earthquake-ravaged Haiti that any debts it owes them needn't be repaid and international lenders should do the same, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Saturday.

"The debt to multilateral institutions should be forgiven and we'll work with these institutions and other partners to make this happen as soon as possible," Flaherty said at press conference closing a two-day gathering of finance ministers from the G7 industrialized nations.

Over the course of the two-day meeting in the Canadian Arctic town of Iqaluit, which was attended by World Bank President Robert Zoellick and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, members discussed what long-term assistance Haiti will need, Flaherty said. He did not mention any figures.

Haiti says that more than 200,000 people died in the January 12 earthquake, which displaced hundreds of thousands more and wrecked the country's capital, Port-au-Prince.

Aid has come from around the world but so much of Haiti's infrastructure was lost or damaged that officials say it will take a wholesale reconstruction effort to get the country on its feet economically.

(Reporting by Glenn Somerville; Editing by Peter Galloway)

 
<p>Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (L) speaks during a news conference with U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (2nd L), Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling (2nd R) and Japan's Finance Minister Naoto Kan during the G7 finance ministers' meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut February 6, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>