16 Jan 2010

France urges cancellation of Haiti's debt

10:53 am on 16 January 2010

France is calling on the rest of the world to cancel Haiti's international debt.

Finance minister Christine Lagarde has contacted other members of the Paris Club of sovereign creditors to discuss speeding up debt relief for Haiti.

A deal was reached in July to cancel $US250 million worth of Haiti's debt, but Ms Lagarde says it is not happening fast enough.

Haiti's debt to France is 58 million euros ($US84 million).

The ABC reports Haiti received $US1.2 billion in debt relief from the IMF and World Bank last June.

Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Tuesday.

The Haitian Red Cross estimates that 45,000 - 50,000 people are dead. However, the Pan American Health Organization estimates the death toll could be 50,000 - 100,000.

US promise

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama has rung Haitian President Rene Preval to promise long-term help for the country's recovery.

Mr Obama will meet former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush on Saturday to discuss their role in spearheading the rebuilding efforts.