The International Monetary Fund says it is deploying staff to Zimbabwe to monitor recovery in the embattled economy after striking the first IMF pact with the southern African country in more than a decade.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the organization's "staff-monitored program" does not include financial assistance. It runs through December.

The monitoring program recognized Zimbabwe's "strong commitment" to economic reform after years of meltdown. It was "an important stepping stone" toward the country's re-engagement with the international financial community, Lagarde said in an announcement available Friday.

Zimbabwe's failure to honor external debt estimated at $10.7 billion since 1999 led to a freeze on loans from the IMF and other institutions. The nation adopted the U.S. dollar in 2009 to end world-record inflation in its own currency.