LITHUANIA SEEKS HELP FROM WEST FOR CURRENCY

LITHUANIA SEEKS HELP FROM WEST FOR CURRENCY

Lithuania seeks Western financial backing of up to $200 million for the currency that the newly independent country wants to issue, President Vytautas Landsbergis said.

Mr. Landsbergis told a news conference Sunday at the Davos World Economic Forum that he wants the support of a stabilization fund as soon as possible to help the former Soviet republic pull out of its economic crisis."We need only $100 (million) to $200 million to enable us to issue the currency which we already have printed and in the vaults of our banks," he said. "But we want it primarily as a guarantee, and it is possible we may not need to use it."

Lithuania, like its Baltic neighbors of Latvia and Estonia, regained independence in the fall after resisting months of Soviet military pressure, but all three still use the ruble as their currency.

Russia, the largest former Soviet republic, is seeking a stabilization fund of some $6 billion to help it make the ruble - now almost worthless amid the country's economic chaos - at least internally convertible.