DUBLIN (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund will do what it can to help Ireland emerge from it EU/IMF bailout later this year, its chief said on Friday, praising the amount of work already done by Dublin.
As a member of Ireland's "troika" of lenders, the IMF was asked by European Union finance ministers this week to advise on how to help Ireland and fellow bailed-out Portugal return fully to international debt markets.
Ireland is confident it will get off emergency support on schedule this year having gradually resumed borrowing on bond markets and seen its economy grow slowly over the past two years.
"We have an open mind about many issues, many of the terms and conditions, if you will, of the exit strategy," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told a news conference on an official visit to the country, her first to a bailed-out euro zone state.
"We will look at all the options available," she said.
Lagarde said those options would have to be within the IMF's mandate and that its rules prevented it from extending the terms of Ireland's bailout loans, a concession that is currently being discussed at European level.
However, she reiterated that Europe should do all it can to assist the return of Ireland and fellow bailed out country Portugal to financial markets, not limiting its help to just extending loans under their EU/IMF bailouts.
Speaking alongside Ireland's finance minister Michael Noonan, Lagarde was praised Ireland's efforts and said she hoped the timid global recovery will help boost Ireland's economy.
"What has been done is huge by any standard... Clearly a huge amount of work has been done and it should be recognized," Lagarde said.
"The number by which the deficit has been reduced, the determination showed in implementing the program has been extraordinary, it doesn't mean to say that all has been done but I would say that more than two-thirds has been done in terms of fiscal policies."
Ireland has been one of the success stories in the euro zone debt crisis, something that is not lost on European Union leaders, who are keen to see it emerge from the bailout.
The troika comprises the IMF, EU and European Central Bank.
(Additional reporting by Stephen Mangan. Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)
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