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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Further London Club Talks Expected Before Christmas

The head of Vneshekonombank, the state debt agent, said Monday the next round of debt-restructuring talks with the London Club of creditors should take place before Dec. 20.

"We are planning that sometime before Dec. 20 the meeting will take place, but the exact date has not yet been agreed," Andrei Kostin said at a news briefing.

"It depends to a great extent on the work schedule of the finance minister."

Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, speaking after a previous round of talks was adjourned Wednesday without agreement, said the talks, part of broader Russian efforts to reduce its $150 billion of foreign debt, would resume in 10 days.

Kasyanov said he hoped for a deal by Christmas, but Kostin did not rule out talks continuing into the new year. "If agreement is not reached before Christmas, then we will continue in January. ... The main thing is that talks continue."

He said the two sides were narrowing their differences in the negotiations over $32 billion of Soviet-era debt, which has already been restructured once into bonds known as PRINs and IANs.

"Both sides are narrowing their positions in talks and the list of disagreements that we have is down to two or maybe three items," he said, adding that differences centered on interest rates and the volume of a proposed debt write-off.

Russia had hoped to sign a deal with the London Club in time for a $550 million coupon payment due Dec. 2, and one group of U.S. creditors has threatened to sue for default.

Russia has a 15-day grace period for the Dec. 2 payment, but Kostin said that payment would not be made as it would be covered by the planned restructuring.

"Such a question is not being considered because it is part of a new restructuring scheme which is being considered presently," he said.