France's Lagarde says talk of taking IMF post 'premature'

23rd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said Monday it was "premature" to talk of her taking the helm of the IMF, though she is tipped as favourite to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Asked on US news channel CNBC what she would say if offered the post, Lagarde replied: "I'd say what an interesting question, but clearly premature. It's for others to decide, my dear."

Germany, Britain and the Netherlands have openly backed Lagarde to succeed her countryman Strauss-Kahn, who resigned as managing director of the International Monetary Fund last week after his arrest on sex assault charges.

"It's always very nice to be liked, and it's what Victor Hugo said once, he said: 'I love being loved,'" said Lagarde, quoting the French writer whose classics include "Les Miserables."

"But you know, we're not talking about that, we're talking about trying to find the appropriate solutions for the situation as it is," she added.

The IMF is scrambling to designate a successor to Strauss-Kahn by the end of June. The EU is expected to announce its candidate at the Group of Eight summit in Deauville, France, later this week.

An EU source said Friday that Lagarde, 55, was "practically a shoo-in" to become Europe's candidate, although she has been dogged by a French judicial probe into allegations of abuse of power.

Lagarde, a former lawyer and minister of six years' standing in the French government, is widely respected in global financial circles and well-liked by the United States -- which controls 16.8 percent of the votes on the IMF board.

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.

However emerging nations have called for a chance to get the post.

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

© 2011 AFP

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