Asian nations steer clear of thorny IMF succession

7th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Asian nations avoided discussing the contentious succession at the top of the IMF at a 46-nation Asia-Europe meeting here Tuesday but Laos and Hungary voiced support for the French candidate.

"I did not hear the view of other colleagues from other countries," said Laotian Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, confirming that the IMF succession had not been officially discussed at the ASEM talks.

However, Laos found the candidacy of France's Christine Lagarde "appropriate," following criticism over Europe's stranglehold on the top job at the International Monetary Fund.

"I think a successor is appropriate from Europe and from France," Sisoulith said as the talks in Godollo wrapped up.

The host of the event, Hungary, also expressed its firm support for the French bid, calling Lagarde "by far the best candidate."

"It is not because the EU is in a crisis, which has to be handled. It is just the opposite," Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said.

"The IMF needs deep restructuring, a comprehensive reform," in which the EU has the best experience, Martonyi reasoned.

French Finance Minister Lagarde embarked on a world tour aimed at overcoming opposition in emerging countries to her bid to lead the IMF, following the arrest in New York of fellow French citizen Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Emerging powers including countries in Asia have been highly critical of Europe's stranglehold on the leadership of the Washington-based institution, which has always been headed by a European since its inception in 1944.

With three of the so-called BRICS emerging powers -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- attending the ASEM talks, diplomats had expected friction between the 27 European Union nations and the 19 others in Godollo.

Diplomatic sources said the issue had come up in informal talks but caused no tension.

© 2011 AFP

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