Page last updated at 19:21 GMT, Saturday, 11 October 2008 20:21 UK

'Progress made' in Iceland talks

People outside Icelandic bank Landsbankinn
Several Icelandic banks have failed and will not release deposits

Significant progress has been made over frozen UK investments in failed Icelandic banks, say the Treasury and the Icelandic authorities.

Arrangements have been agreed "in principle" for a quick payout to depositors in Landsbanki's closed internet bank Icesave, they said.

The talks continue as world leaders meet to tackle the financial crisis.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Alistair Darling said he would unveil more details about the UK's bank rescue plan next week.

His comments came in a BBC interview in Washington where he has been meeting finance ministers from the group of seven industrialised nations and US President George W Bush.

Mr Darling would not say whether the details would be released before markets opened on Monday.

Significant progress was made on retail depositors of Icesave with arrangements agreed in principle for an accelerated payout to depositors
Treasury and Icelandic officials

"What we're doing over the weekend is looking at specifics, how do we implement it and we'll be making an announcement at the beginning of the week," he said.

Policy makers from around the world are meeting to co-ordinate efforts to battle the crisis engulfing the global financial system and threatening to plunge major economies into recession.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to fly to Paris on Sunday to hold crisis talks with French president Nicolas Sarkozy before joining in a scheduled meeting with other leaders from eurozone countries.

Tensions have flared between Britain and Iceland as the collapse of Iceland's banks have put billions of pounds of UK savers' money at risk.

Iceland guarantees

The chancellor has said all UK private accounts affected by the bank crisis will be protected.

A Treasury delegation is in the Icelandic capital to seek assurances UK savers with money in collapsed Icelandic banks will not lose their deposits.

The group wants to establish a claims procedure for British depositors to get their money back as soon as possible.

Private deposits with collapsed banks Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander (KSF) and Heritable have been sold to ING Direct, where the accounts should continue to operate normally.

Private customers with Icesave are protected by the UK's Financial Services Compensation Scheme, with Mr Darling promising compensation above the usual 50,000 limit to cover all deposits.

The first 16,000 of a deposit is meant to be guaranteed by the Icelandic authorities.

It is understood Iceland has now agreed in principle to honour this commitment.

British investors have roughly 4bn in the Icelandic bank.

"Significant progress was made on retail depositors of Icesave with arrangements agreed in principle for an accelerated payout to depositors," said the statement issued by Treasury and Icelandic officials on Saturday.

'Friendly atmosphere'

The UK government is also pressing for the quick return of almost 1bn of funds invested by councils and other public bodies, including charities, which the government has not offered to protect.

It is thought this will also be discussed over the weekend.

The Treasury delegation in Reykjavik includes officials from the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority.

After a number of sharp exchanges between Gordon Brown and his Icelandic counterpart Geir Haarde, the countries have sought to show they are now working together.

"Delegations of Iceland and the United Kingdom have met in a friendly atmosphere in Reykjavk to discuss issues of mutual interest related to the current financial crisis," the joint statement said.





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