French-German finance meeting opens

22nd March 2004, Comments 0 comments

BERLIN, March 22 (AFP) - A French-German economic meeting opened here Monday, with the focus likely to be on global economic uncertainties and the nomination of a European candidate for the top job at the International Monetary Fund.

BERLIN, March 22 (AFP) - A French-German economic meeting opened here Monday, with the focus likely to be on global economic uncertainties and the nomination of a European candidate for the top job at the International Monetary Fund.

European finance ministries are burning with the question of who will succeed IMF Managing Director Horst Koehler, who is stepping down to stand as a candidate for the German presidency.

Even though French finance officials say his succession at the IMF "is not on the agenda" here, the question is likely to be discussed when French Finance Minister Francis Mer, German counterpart Hans Eichel, Bank of France governor Christian Noyer and Bundesbank head Ernst Welteke confer.

German press reports have said French President Jacques Chirac opposes the candidacy of outgoing Spanish Economy Minister Rodrigo Rato and has already warned German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder he will not support the Spaniard, for whom a consensus in his favor was beginning to emerge last week.

The French daily La Tribune reported Monday that France could put forward its own candidate, Jean Lemierre, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

By tradition the head of the IMF is a European while the top job at the World Bank, the IMF's sister institution, goes to an American.

But some IMF officials are questioning the European monopoly on the position. Executive directors from Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Australia, Switzerland and Russia said Saturday that a candidate be chosen independent of his or her nationality.

The shockwaves from the deadly bombings in Madrid last week and their impact on economic growth are also likely to dominate the meeting on Monday. A news conference was scheduled for 12:30 pm local time.

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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