Visits to Zambia by Yellen, IMF reflect concern over stalled debt talks

By Andrea Shalal LUSAKA (Reuters) - Two of the world's most powerful finance officials are visiting Zambia this week, a reflection of the growing concern shared by

Western officials about how China and other creditors are handling the African country's debt. Zambia requested debt relief under the Group of 20 Common Framework nearly two

years, but progress has been glacial at best, despite increasingly urgent appeals to China and private sector creditors to reach a deal. Frustrated by the delays, U.S.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva arrived for separate visits in Zambia on Sunday. Both see a new sovereign

debt roundtable - introduced late last year - as a way to make progress on long-stalled debt restructuring processes. While the overlap was coincidental, the two will meet

informally while in Lusaka, a Treasury official said. Yellen told Reuters en route to Zambia she supported the roundtable as a forum for discussing general principles of

debt relief. "I think that’s a helpful approach and hopefully the specific cases will be easier to deal with," Yellen said. Georgieva and Yellen will both participate

when the roundtable meets for the first time in India next month on the sidelines of the Group of 20 finance officials. The specific date and guest list are still being worked

out. Georgieva, who helped initiate the roundtable along with World Bank President David Malpass, told reporters this month it aimed to resolve broader issues such as

transparency, timing of treatments and how to set cutoff dates for loans, but was not intended to replace the existing Common Framework.