Belgian Prime Minister Leterme joins OECD: statement

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Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme has been appointed deputy secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and will begin work before the end of the year, the OECD said on Friday.

Leterme, aged 50, will be responsible for the OECD's work on social and governance affairs.

He leaves a government caught in a long-running national crisis over deep disagreements between French and Flemish speaking forces in the country. But a compromise appears to be in sight opening the prospect of the formation of a fully operating government after 460 days of limbo.

The social and governance portfolio at the OECD covers education, skills, labour and employment, health, small and medium-sized businesses and territorial development, the OECD said.

He has been appointed for two years, renewable, following approval by the OECD council earlier on Friday.

Secretary general Angel Gurria said that Leterme's "skills and experience will be central to the role we are playing in helping governments and citizens alike rise to the challenges of these difficult times."

Leterme, who has also been budget and foreign minister in Belgium, replaces Aart de Geus who left the OECD at the end of August. There are three other deputy secretary generals, Pier Carlo Padoan, Richard Boucher and Rintaro Tamaki.

The OECD has 34 members, all advanced countries, for which it carries out research and advises on policy.

© 2011 AFP

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