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Irish PM optimistic about latest EU-IMF review

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(DUBLIN) - Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Monday he was confident of a positive outcome from the latest review of the country's implementation of financial reforms following an international bailout.

In November 2010, Ireland received an 85-billion-euro ($108-billion) bailout from the so-called troika of the EU, ECB and IMF as massive debt and deficit problems left the country on the verge of collapse.

"The troika arrive tomorrow for their fifth analysis. I expect that Ireland will again measure up," Kenny said.

In October, after the last review, the troika welcomed Ireland's adoption of reforms and said the implementation of the programme "continues to be strong".

Kenny said it was in Ireland's interest that Europe was able to deal with the euro and debt crises "politically".

"It is in Ireland's interest that every other economy grows because we are an exporting nation," Kenny said.

Kenny is due to meet British counterpart David Cameron in London on Thursday, his office said, and EU issues are expected to dominate the meeting following Britain's refusal to sign up to a new European financial compact.

"Obviously the relationship between Ireland and England has never been more critical," Kenny told RTE state radio.

"It is absolutely fundamental that Britain stays an active member of the European Union.

"Given all the discussions and the intensity of the discussions, both about the eurozone and the inter-governmental treaty discussions, it is only right and proper that we should sit down and have an up-to-date briefing as to what is going on and where we are headed," Kenny said.

Britain was the only one of the EU's 27 member states to say at a summit last month that it would not sign up to a new agreement on budgetary rules aimed at solving the euro debt crisis.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday that the agreement should be signed by March 1.

The new troika update for Ireland follows Finance Minister Michael Noonan's austerity measures in his Budget 2012 last month that clawed back 3.8 billion euros via spending cuts and tax hikes.

One of the main measures was an increase in the top rate of value added tax (VAT) on goods and services to 23 percent from 21 percent but he maintained Ireland's corporate tax rate at a relatively low 12.5 percent.

Noonan told parliament Ireland's economic crisis meant that that "personal wealth has been destroyed, thousands of people are sinking into poverty, emigration has returned and unemployment is far too high."

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