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IMF arrives in Egypt in effort to head off currency crisis

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"All details will be discussed in these meetings today," added Ahmed, who was due to meet President Mohamed Morsi later.

The pound has lost more than 4 percent of its dollar value since Dec. 30, when the central bank introduced a new system for selling foreign currency to try to stem the fall in foreign reserves. The pound's slide has raised concern about inflation in the food-importing country that could ignite further unrest.

The pound has been weakened by investors and ordinary Egyptians selling their pounds for dollars, fearing that further political instability will erode their local currency savings.

The pound last traded at 6.45 pounds to the dollar on Sunday. Markets were closed on Monday for a public holiday marking Coptic Christmas. The currency has now lost more than a tenth of its value since Mubarak's overthrow.

Trying to revive an economy pummeled by a turbulent political transition, the Islamist-led government struck an initial agreement on the IMF Stand-By Arrangement in November.

But last month Cairo postponed formal conclusion of the deal because of new political confrontations and protests ignited by Morsi's drive to fast-track a new, Islamist-tinged constitution that was approved in a popular referendum.

Confronted by lethal street violence at the time, Morsi postponed planned tax increases seen as part of a package of austerity measures needed to secure the IMF loan.

Egypt must now renegotiate some terms of the accord, and economists say the IMF board's approval is not a certainty.

In the past two years, Egypt's finances have been bolstered by aid from foreign donors such as Qatar, which the government says has deposited $2 billion at the central bank.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani is due in Cairo on Tuesday for talks with Kandil that would include "ways of supporting economic, trade and investment ties in this important period," Egypt's state news agency said.

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