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Treasury chief rules out a bailout of Asian nations

Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin on Sunday ruled out an American-led bailout of the Southeast Asian nations struggling through a currency crisis and a sharp stock market drop. But he left open the possibility of a broader role for the United States through international organizations seeking to restore financial stability.

Rubin, speaking on ABC's "This Week," said that "We've been a very active and very important part" of an international response to the troubles that resounded in markets around the world last week. But he said that the kind of bailout program that the United States designed for Mexico in 1995 "is not envisioned here."As he spoke, however, Rubin's subordinates at the Treasury Department were scrambling to come up with backup plans in case the programs emerging from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank prove insufficient. Among them, said people familiar with the planning, is the possibility of some kind of supplemental financing for Indonesia, which is currently negotiating with the IMF over fiscal reforms. Those negotiations are expected to be completed in the next week or two.

The IMF has already announced a $17 billion package for Thailand, in which the United States did not participate. But Thai officials have not put into effect key parts of the program, which center on government spending and reform of the country's banking system.

It is still unclear whether the political instability that the economic crisis has engendered could interfere with Thailand's efforts to fulfill those pledges.