By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department's top international official spoke with Zambia's finance minister on Wednesday and discussed Zambia's ongoing debt restructuring and its response to a recent cholera outbreak, the U.S. Treasury Department said.
Zambia faces a major cholera outbreak that has killed at least 333 people since October, with over 8,000 cumulative cholera cases during this period, according to the website of the U.S. Embassy in Zambia.
U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Jay Shambaugh reiterated the U.S. government's "commitment to partner with Zambia" to end the outbreak when he spoke to Zambian Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane, according to the Treasury Department.
Zambia, one of Africa's largest copper producers, also defaulted on its debts three years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its restructuring efforts have been beset by delays.
Shambaugh "welcomed Zambia's performance to date under its IMF program and encouraged continued progress on the remaining economic reforms," the Treasury Department said.
In a major setback for Zambia, its official creditors, which include China and members of the Paris Club of creditor nations, rejected a preliminary restructuring deal in November.
The International Monetary Fund's board in December approved an immediate $187 million loan payout to Zambia and said the country was revising a restructuring proposal for $3 billion of bonds that official creditors had rejected in November.
"They discussed Zambia's ongoing debt restructuring under the Common Framework and efforts to finalize negotiations with all remaining creditors," the Treasury Department said in a statement on Wednesday.
Debtor countries are meant to agree comparable restructuring deals with official and commercial creditors under the G20's Common Framework process, which was established in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Zambia said earlier this month that it aimed to agree on key conditions for debt relief no later than the first quarter of 2024.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler)