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US judge scolds Argentina over debt crisis remarks

NEW YORK -- A U.S. federal judge Friday urged Argentina to resume negotiations “as promptly as possible” to resolve its debt crisis and said the South American nation's officials must stop publicly uttering what he described as “half-truths” that mislead people about its legal obligations.

U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa scolded Argentina at a hearing, saying the country's obligations to pay U.S. bond holders who obtained court judgments must be resolved, likely through negotiations. He said the officials' statements all but ignored that fact.

“Half-truths are false and misleading,” he said. “Half-truths do not comply with the law, which requires disclosure of facts.”

Argentina entered economic limbo on Thursday after failed talks. It has been forced into a default that could undermine an already frail economy if the dispute with American creditors is not resolved soon.

The Manhattan court has blocked Argentina from making interest payments to creditors who exchanged their bonds in 2005 and 2010 for bonds of lesser value until it settles with U.S. hedge funds that claim they're owed about US$1.5 billion.

Argentina's economy minister has said he's willing to hold further talks.

Attorney Jonathan Blackman told Griesa that Argentina intends “in good faith to pursue this dialogue,” but its government had lost faith in court-appointed mediator Daniel Pollack after he issued a statement on Wednesday saying that Argentina would “imminently be in default.”

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