Bini Smaghi will not resign, Rome seeks solution: press

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ECB board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi will not resign in order to give up his seat to a French colleague despite pressure from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Sole 24 Ore financial daily said Friday.

When fellow Italian Mario Draghi was appointed to take over as head of the European Central Bank in June, European officials widely speculated that Bini Smaghi would resign -- in exchange for the top job at the Bank of Italy.

But Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has chosen another candidate.

"A disappointed Bini Smaghi will not resign," the paper's headline said.

Citing rumours in the corridors of parliament, the paper said Berlusconi would attempt to reassure Sarkozy during a European summit in Brussels on Sunday that "a solution will be found by the end of the year."

Bini Smaghi "has always explained his unwillingness to resign as a defence of the ECB's autonomy," but now "risks provoking a serious hardening of the French position," it said.

Berlusconi defied expectations on Thursday and chose Ignazio Visco as the new Bank of Italy head, after weeks of indecision within the government.

Visco is expected to take over from incumbent Draghi when he steps down in November to head up the ECB.

France supported Draghi's candidature for the ECB post, but on condition that a French candidate would take Bini Smaghi's place following the unwritten rule that no country should hold two seats at the same time.

"It's now a case of finding an adequate solution for Bini Smaghi... a new, prestigious international post," Il Sole 24 Ore said.

© 2011 AFP

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