LONDON – Ireland’s finance minister acknowledged for the first time Thursday that the nation may welcome a rescue plan aimed solely at shoring up the banking sector, as the government began talks with officials from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
If the talks were to result in the creation of a contingency fund, it would be a “very desirable outcome,” Finance Minister Brian Lenihan told parliament on Thursday. No agreement has been reached, he said.
Earlier, Central Bank of Ireland Gov. Patrick Honohan said Ireland is likely to end up tapping a loan worth “tens of billions” of euros as a result of the negotiations.
The talks aren’t about a bailout, but they would lay groundwork for a loan that the government would have to accept, Honohan said, according to state broadcaster RTE.
Ireland has been under intense pressure from its European partners to embrace a rescue as worries about the nation’s banking sector have grown. Cowen and other officials have resisted calls in recent days to tap a European rescue fund, arguing that the nation has enough cash to meet its funding needs until mid-2011.
Nobel may not hand out Liu prize
OSLO, Norway – The Nobel Peace Prize may not be handed out this year because China is not likely to let anyone from imprisoned award-winner Liu Xiaobo’s family attend the ceremony, a Nobel official said Thursday, calling China’s diplomatic pressure this year unprecedented.
Outraged by the award, Beijing has reportedly clamped down on Liu’s relatives and pressured other countries not to send representatives to the Dec. 10 award ceremony in Oslo.
Ambassadors from Russia, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Iraq have all declined invitations but didn’t specify the reasons, said Geir Lundestad, secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
The prestigious $1.4 million award can only be collected by the laureate or close family members.
Liu, a Chinese dissident, is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion after co-authoring an appeal for reforms to China’s one-party political system. His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest.