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An agreement to forgive some of the debt of Ebola-hit West African nations may be reached soon in talks between the International Monetary Fund and donor countries, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said. Lagarde, on a three-day visit to Senegal, said that the IMF board was also due to approve in early February a zero-percent- interest loan of $160 million for the three countries worst-affected by Ebola - Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. "We are exploring the means of easing the debt of these three countries in concertation with a number of donor countries," Lagarde told a news conference with Senegalese President Macky Sall. An academic study in December said the IMF was partly responsible for the scale of the Ebola crisis in three West African countries, because its policies hampered healthcare spending in these post-conflict states.
The only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence from Britain in 1980 assumed the largely ceremonial role when he was handed the AU flag and gavel at a summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. In his acceptance speech, Africa's oldest head of state spoke of the need to guard against foreigners exploiting the continent's mineral wealth and called for more assistance for African farmers. "African resources should belong to Africa and to no one else, except to those we invite as friends. "Zimbabwe is an important member state, a very committed country," Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra told Reuters on the sidelines of the summit.
MOSCOW (AP) — In a surprise decision, Russia's central bank on Friday cut its key interest rate, which it had raised sharply last month to support the collapsing ruble, in order to help the fading economy.