Austria 'can imagine' Lagarde as IMF chief: minister

21st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Austria "can imagine" lending its support to French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde as the EU candidate to head the International Monetary Fund, finance minister Maria Fekter said Saturday.

"There is currently great interest -- and this is what Europeans are fighting for -- in the tradition that the head of the IMF is a European," Fekter told Oe1 public radio in an interview.

Lagarde was "a very competent personality. I know her well. And I can imagine that Austria will support" her candidacy, the minister said.

The race is on to find a new head of the Washington-based IMF after Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned from the position on Thursday, five days after being arrested in New York on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel maid. He has denied all charges.

Under a long-standing arrangement between Europe and the United States, a European has always held the top IMF job while an American leads its sister institution, the World Bank.

But emerging powers China and Brazil are calling for an end to the arrangement to give an opportunity to a candidate from a developing nation.

Lagarde, 55, already the first woman finance minister of a Group of Seven country, would become the first woman to head the IMF.

According to a report in the German weekly Bild am Sonntag, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble also backs Lagarde.

© 2011 AFP

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