Chile president praises Lagarde

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Chilean President Sebastian Pinera praised on Wednesday French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde's abilities to make a good IMF director, without formally endorsing her for the post.

"Of course we are aware there are very very good candidates including the French candidate," Pinera said on the sidelines of a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"She is a woman who has all the capabilities to perform as a very good IMF general director."

Lagarde, who announced her candidacy at a Paris news conference amid growing support in European capitals, has drawn backing outside Europe from one country -- Congo -- and cautious comments elsewhere, including the United States.

Agustin Carstens, Mexico's central bank chief, is also in the race to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as International Monetary Fund managing director, following his resignation to face sexual assault charges that he denies.

Emerging-market and developing countries have called for an end to the unspoken agreement that a European heads the IMF and an American is the president of the World Bank, its sister institution.

Pinera called for an open and inclusive process to select the next IMF managing director.

He said it was important during the selection process "to also set the path for what the IMF should be doing in the 21st century."

© 2011 AFP

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