BUENOS AIRES, JAN. 13 -- Argentina, which is seeking an emergency loan, is facing large payments on outstanding bonds issued by the former military regime, according to bankers here.

Payments on the bonds, totaling $420 million to $450 million, come due Feb. 15. Bankers in Buenos Aires question how the government can make those payments as well as interest payments on the $52 billion that Argentina owes foreign lenders. They estimate reserves are no more than $550 million.

That, bankers say, means Argentina can only cover one of those two items without help from overseas creditors. And they claim that was why Argentine Economy Minister Juan Sourrouille flew to Washington with a high-level team of officials Tuesday.

{The visitors met today with Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and World Bank President Barber Conable, but officials declined to comment on the talks.}

Diplomats in Buenos Aires warn that Argentina will have to make the payments due on the bonds if it wants to avoid denting its financial credibility with overseas lenders.

The bonds were issued by the military in 1982 during an escalating economic crisis. The regime, defeated in the 10-week war with Britain over the Falkland Islands, printed $3 billion in bonds that year.

The bonds had denominations in dollars, and payments must be made in dollars.

Sources in Buenos Aires say Sourrouille and his advisers -- who include Treasury Secretary Mario Brodersohn -- are sounding out creditors on a $500 million short-term loan.

Possible creditors for the loan, sources said, are the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements, which is an organization of western central banks.

The United States twice organized $500 million emergency loans when Argentina ran into debt payment difficulties last year.