The International Monetary Fund said Thursday that "significant progress" had been made in talks with Ukraine's new Western-backed government over the resumption of a support programme for the crisis-hit ex-Soviet state. "The mission has made significant progress in discussing with the Ukrainian authorities the policies to put the country on the path of economic reform, sound governance, and sustainable growth while protecting the poor and vulnerable," IMF mission chief Nikolai Georgiyev said in a statement. "Our cooperation with the Ukrainian authorities has been excellent," Georgiyev added. "The authorities' comprehensive reform program covers a wide range of issues and additional work needs to be completed to advance program discussions." The IMF team arrived in Kiev on March 4 for what had been meant to be a 10-day mission aimed at examining the new government's books following the February 22 fall of the pro-Russian administration of president Viktor Yanukovych. But the Fund decided to extend its stay in what many analysts interpreted as a sign it was moving ahead quickly with the approval of a vital assistance programme that would replace a $15-billion (10.9-billion-euro) package whose payment was frozen in 2011 over a lack of economic reforms. Georgiyev said his team now planned to conclude its work on March 25. Ukraine's new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has said that his government inherited virtually empty coffers from the ousted regime and required some 25 billion euros ($35 billion) in assistance over the coming to years to cover the country's debts and budget shortfalls.