Merkel to visit India, Singapore next week

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit India and Singapore next week, Berlin said Wednesday, amid a rift between developed and developing nations over the next head of the IMF.

The May 30-June 2 trip will see Merkel and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh host talks between the German and Indian cabinets for the first time and attend a concert marking the start of the "Year of Germany in India 2011-2012".

In Singapore, Merkel will also meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Talks in both countries will focus on a range of "bilateral, economic, global and international issues," the German government said.

The visit comes amid a growing rift between "developed" countries like Germany and "developing" nations like India over who will succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund.

The post has traditionally been held by someone from Europe and the German government has given its public backing to French Finance Minister Christina Lagarde for the job.

But the world's largest emerging economies, India among them, on Tuesday slammed Europe's push to retain the top job at the IMF, calling the continent's hold on the position "obsolete."

IMF directors from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- the so-called BRICS economies -- said that Europe's longstanding exclusive deal to lead the IMF "undermines the legitimacy of the Fund."

Frenchman Strauss-Kahn resigned to fight charges of sexual assault of a hotel employee in New York on May 14.

© 2011 AFP

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