KIEV (Reuters) - The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said she had a constructive phone call with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko late on Thursday in which she urged him to speed up the fight against corruption.
Perceived backsliding on reform commitments, including delays in establishing an independent court to handle corruption cases, has held up billions of dollars in loans under Ukraine's $17.5 billion (12.9 billion pounds) IMF programme.
Action by parliament and prosecutors against existing anti-corruption institutions such as the NABU investigative bureau also provoked a wave of criticism this week from reformists in Ukraine and its foreign backers, including the IMF.
"I had a constructive and open discussion with President Poroshenko on Ukraine's efforts to fight corruption," Lagarde said in a statement.
Lagarde said she and Poroshenko discussed the need to safeguard the independence of NABU and similar institutions and that they agreed on the urgency of establishing an anti-corruption court.
"I assured the President that the IMF stands ready to continue to support Ukraine, along with other international partners, in the fight against corruption and encouraged the authorities to accelerate the implementation of reforms," she said.
(Reporting by Alessandra Prentice, editing by Larry King)