Iceland, British, Dutch officials try to revive Icesave talks

2nd July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Representatives of Iceland, Britain and the Netherlands met in Reykjavik this week to prepare further talks on a new repayment deal to cover the collapse of the Icesave bank, the Icelandic government said Friday.

"The negotiation committee representing the Icelandic government on the Icesave issue met yesterday and today (Thursday and Friday) with representatives of the UK and Dutch governments in Reykjavik for discussions," the finance ministry said in a statement.

"The purpose of the meetings was primarily to exchange information and to prepare further talks later this year," it said, pointing out that "this is the first time the parties meet since the talks were adjourned on March 5."

The three parties had held intense discussions leading up to a March 6 referendum on a deal for Iceland to repay Britain and the Netherlands 3.9 billion euros (4.9 billion dollars) to compensate for money they paid to 340,000 of their citizens hit by the fall of the online Icesave bank in October 2008.

However, after more than 93 percent of Icelandic voters rejected the deal to repay the money by 2024 at what was widely considered a high interest rate of 5.5 percent, the talks stalled and speculation has been rife over when they would resume.

The dispute is considered one of the main sticking points as Iceland begins negotiations to join the EU.

No details from this week's talks were divulged, but the finance ministry said US attorney Lee C. Buchheit had headed up the Icelandic negotiation committee, which also counted a handful of high-level Icelandic politicians and attorneys.

The committee was advised by former OECD secretary general Donald Johnston, along with experts from corporate advisory firm Hawkpoint and the international law office Ashurst, it added.

© 2010 AFP

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