UPDATE 2-Ireland talks on track, political steps needed-IMF

* Ireland talks “intense,” moving forward quickly

* Political decision up to governments, says IMF

* Negotiations at risk as PM faces early election call
(Adds details on contagion concerns)

By Walter Brandimarte

NEW YORK, Nov 23 (BestGrowthStock) – Talks between Ireland and the
International Monetary Fund are moving forward quickly but it
is up to the Irish government to make the necessary political
decisions, the IMF’s first deputy managing director, John
Lipsky, said on Tuesday.

Negotiations to rescue Ireland from its financial troubles
were at risk as Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, strongly
criticized for his handling of the crisis, faced calls for an
early election.

“Obviously, our work there is technical, not political. But
ultimately decisions have to be made by governments, not by
technicians,” Lipsky told reporters in New York.

“The negotiations are proceeding quite well, quite rapidly.
They’re very intense. Obviously there is a great focus on
progressing this as rapidly as possible.”

Cowen has defied calls to quit, saying the national
interest required that he press on to unveil on Wednesday a
promised four-year austerity package — a condition for the
country to receive an expected 80 billion to 90 billion euros
in loans from the IMF and the European Union.

Lipsky said he wouldn’t like to speculate about the impact
of political turbulence on the prospects of a rescue. He said
history shows that leaders from different sides of the
political spectrum have been able to agree on action at moments
of great uncertainty.

Asked about fears of contagion from Ireland spreading to
other financially weak members of the euro zone, he said there
is hope that measures such as the European Financial Stability
Facility will give confidence to investors and reduce pressure
on other governments.

Debt costs for Portugal and Spain continued to rise on
Tuesday, however, underscoring investor concerns that those
countries could be next in line after Greece and Ireland.

Lipsky also said he believed UK authorities are prepared to
handle any spillovers from the Irish crisis into banks with
exposure to the country.

“Given that pressures on Irish banks have been building for
some time, I’m sure the UK authorities are quite prepared,” he
said.
(Editing by James Dalgleish)

UPDATE 2-Ireland talks on track, political steps needed-IMF