Argentina's new government is ready to resume talks with holdout creditors as soon as it takes office, the New York arbitrator in the long-stalled negotiations said Wednesday.
Daniel Pollack, the "special master" appointed by a US court to seek a compromise between Buenos Aires and creditors led by two hedge funds, said he had met earlier this week with the incoming Argentine finance secretary Luis Caputo.
Pollack said in a statement that the meeting had been requested by Caputo and was "introductory in nature."
"No substantive negotiations to resolve the outstanding debt litigation occurred" at that meeting, or a meeting Pollack had last week with creditors seeking some $10 billion from the country.
But Pollack said Caputo had expressed the new government's intention "to commence such negotiations promptly after they are sworn into office" on Thursday.
The holdout creditors are bondholders who declined to take part in the restructuring of Argentina's debt after it defaulted on about $100 billion worth of borrowings in 2001.
The vast majority of creditors took large writedowns of their bonds in the restructure to help the country regain its financial feet.
But the holdouts, some of which bought their bonds around the time of the default at deep discounts to face value, have held on for full repayment. In 2012 they gained the backing of the New York district court, which said Buenos Aires cannot repay any creditors without paying the holdouts first.
The government of outgoing President Cristina Kirchner had rejected that and said the holdouts, which it branded "vultures", could settle for the same deal as the restructured bond holders.
That left the repayment situation frozen and, blocked by the court from making payments, Argentina fell back into default on its debt again last year.
Meanwhile, Argentina has been unable to easily access global capital markets for its needs.
Kirchner's successor Mauricio Macri, who won the runoff election in late November, has promised to resolve the impasse. But the court order to repay the holdouts in total would tax the country's foreign exchange reserves of around $27 billion.