EU commissioner backs Lagarde for IMF: interview

25th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn hinted he would back French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to take the helm of the IMF, in an interview published Wednesday.

"Christine Lagarde is without doubt a figure who carries weight on the international stage," Rehn was quoted as saying by French business daily Les Echos.

"Her reputation has grown further in recent months through her skill in managing the debt crisis in Europe and her good management of the French presidency of the G20" grouping of big economies, he added.

Lagarde has received the backing of Germany, Britain and other European countries to take over as managing director of the International Monetary Fund, a global lender with a key role in calming the effects of the financial crisis on public finances in Europe.

"Recent events in Europe call for a leadership of this organisation by a figure who understands the stakes of the crisis in European sovereign debt in all its complexity," Rehn said.

The IMF's former head, Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, resigned last week after his arrest in New York on sexual assault charges.

The post is traditionally held by a European, but emerging economies complain that the post should be opened up to their candidates.

"Given the current climate, it is legitimate that Europe present a candidate," Rehn told Les Echos.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's top advisor Henri Guaino told RFI radio on Wednesday that the French government would "clearly" back Lagarde for the IMF post if she runs.

Lagarde was due to give a news conference at 0945 GMT on Wednesday.

© 2011 AFP

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