France's Lagarde excellent choice for IMF head: Berlusconi

19th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde would be an "excellent choice" to head up the International Monetary Fund, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in a statement Thursday.

"The current finance minister Christine Lagarde would be an excellent choice," Berlusconi said in the wake of the resignation by the scandal-hit former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

"It is vital to reach a common European position as soon as possible which favours one candidate to head up the International Monatory Fund in Dominique Strauss-Kahn's place," he said.

Berlusconi's comments came amid global speculation about who will become the next managing director of the IMF, which makes loans to struggling economies.

Italy's finance minister Giulio Tremonti released a statement shortly afterwards adding his support for Lagarde based on "her abilities and experience, which have been demonstrated over the years."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said late Thursday that the EU is in a position to propose a top calibre candidate to replace Strauss-Kahn.

The leadership vacuum at the powerful institution has prompted cries from the developing world for an end to the gentleman's agreement between the US and Europe that a European fills the post, and an American heads the World Bank.

Strauss-Kahn quit his job in a statement released by the 24-member IMF board at midnight Wednesday, four days after he was arrested in New York on charges of sexually assaulting and attempting to rape a chambermaid at the luxury Sofitel hotel.

Strauss-Kahn was in court again in Hew York Thursday for a bail hearing.

© 2011 AFP

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