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We're ready to help, says IMF chief

The International Monetary Fund has said it can help Ireland amid speculation the country is heading for a bail-out.

The IMF has not received any request from the Dublin government so far, managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said.

"I think they can manage well," he said, while adding: "If at one point in time... the Irish want some support from the IMF, of course we will be ready."

On Friday, European leaders released a statement seeking to reassure Ireland's panicky creditors by promising that tougher new terms for future bail-outs of indebted countries would not harm them.

But nerves remain frayed as some expect the country to follow Greece in grasping for a financial lifeline sooner rather than later.

Speculation about a bail-out for Ireland pushed the Dublin government's borrowing costs to record highs last week, the latest indication that the continent-wide crisis over governments with too much debt is still festering and clouding prospects for a hesitant economic recovery.

While the statement calmed market jitters, media reports nevertheless surfaced that Ireland is in talks with the European Union to receive emergency funding for a eurozone financial backstop programme - claims denied by the government.

Mr Strauss-Kahn said he is "confident" that Ireland will solve its problems, and described its current predicament, which is a banking issue, as "totally different" to Greece.

"It's not the same thing as the Greece problem, which was at the same time a fiscal problem but also a competitiveness problem," he said.

"And one of the difficulties for the Greek government... is that they also have to solve this competitiveness problem. Without solving this problem, they won't find a way out."

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