UPDATE 2-Argentina and bondholders to hold January debt talks -mediator
(Recasts with meeting set for talks; adds statement from mediator, comment from Senate leader)
By Tariro Mzezewa, Nate Raymond and Nicolás Misculin
NEW YORK/BUENOS AIRES Dec 21 (Reuters) - Argentina's new government and holdout bondholders are to meet in the second week of January to start "substantive" talks toward settling a more than decade-old sovereign debt dispute, the U.S. court-appointed mediator said on Monday.
The talks would mark a major breakthrough in the dispute, which has caused Argentina to be shut out of the international capital markets and encouraged the prior governments of both Cristina Fernandez and Nestor Kirchner to adopt unorthodox economic policies.
Mauricio Macri, the first non-Peronist president in more than a decade, was sworn into office on Dec. 10. He has moved to start reversing some of the populist policies of the prior governments and said it was a priority to settle the debt issue.
Daniel Pollack, a New York lawyer who is the mediator, said in a statement that he met for about one hour on Monday in his office with Argentina's newly installed finance secretary, Luis Caputo, and the vice chief of the cabinet, Mario Quintana.
"The meeting was constructive, covering a range of issues, and it was agreed that they will return to New York City in the second week of January to commence substantive negotiations with the Bondholders," Pollack said in a statement released through his law firm, McCarter & English.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa, who has long overseen the litigation, urged in a hearing last Thursday that Argentina and its creditors resolve the dispute stemming from the $100 billion default on sovereign bonds in early 2002. The case is being heard in the United States because the bonds were issued under U.S. law.
"The government will start negotiating now and once they have the blueprint of a deal it will be brought to Congress. It should all be settled by the middle of the year," said Senate leader Federico Pinedo, who is a close ally of Macri. Continuación...