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Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara smiles after a meeting with France's President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris July 26, 2012.

CHARLES PLATIAU/Reuters

Canada is cancelling $130-million in debt owed by the Cote d'Ivoire, erasing an old tab to help the African country dig itself out from a pile of debt.

The Canadian action is part of a international effort to forgive billions in Ivorian debt as international players judge that President Alassane Ouattara is making headway in turning the country's finances and governance around.

In June, the World Bank and the International Monetary fund judged that Cote d'Ivoire had met it economic criteria for debt relief, which could erase $7-billion of the African nation's $13-billion debt. Canada, a supporter of G8-led debt relief initiatives since the 1990s, is now adding its part by cancelling $130-million in debt owed to Ottawa.

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"Today's announcement will allow Côte d'Ivoire to commit more resources to such needs as the health and education of its citizens," Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in a statement. "I would also like to reiterate our support to the Ivorian Government's continued efforts to restore peace and stability in the country."

The Cote d'Ivoire's debt problems date back decades, but worsened when the country stopped making interest payments during a civil war that raged between 2004 and 2007.

Mr. Ouatarra, a former IMF economist, made debt relief a priority when took office last year after a power struggle with former president Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to recognize Mr. Ouatarra's victory in the 2010 presidential elections.

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