Strauss-Kahn to visit IMF staff in Washington

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn is set to return to IMF headquarters in Washington "as early as next week" to meet former staff after the sexual assault case against him collapsed, a spokesman said Thursday.

The IMF, which plays a crucial but often controversial role in aiding countries in financial straits, was left reeling after Strauss-Kahn resigned as chief in May in the middle of tense negotiations over Greece's massive bailout.

"Like any former managing director of the IMF, Mr Strauss-Kahn would be welcome to visit the Fund. I understand that he intends to make a personal visit to headquarters," IMF spokesman David Hawley told a press briefing.

The remarks provided the first clue about the future movements of the veteran French politician who has been holed up in New York since the sexual assault and attempted rape case against him was dismissed on Tuesday.

"It's a personal visit... I expect he would meet with the staff. I don't have any further details on the visit, which is not yet fully fleshed out," Hawley said.

"It could be as early as next week. But if there were such a visit, it would be a personal one and essentially a private one, so it wouldn't be open to the press or the public."

The case against Strauss-Kahn, 62, sensationally collapsed on Tuesday after prosecutors said they could no longer prove beyond a reasonable doubt a hotel maid's claims to have been forced into oral sex and sexually assaulted.

Prosecutors said his accuser, 32-year-old Guinean Nafissatou Diallo, had lied so many times, both about details of the case and about her background, that she no longer made a credible witness in a he-said/she-said trial.

The maid's lawyer continues to argue that his client has been denied her right to justice and that prosecutors turned their backs on the medical evidence. He has filed a civil lawsuit on Diallo's behalf seeking unspecified monetary damages.

Strauss-Kahn, a politician and economist who had been tipped as a strong challenger for the French presidency in 2012 before the scandal broke, resigned as IMF chief on May 18 to fight the charges.

Former French finance minister Christine Lagarde won the succession battle and took up her post as the new head of the 187-nation International Monetary Fund on July 5, becoming the first woman to head the key crisis lender.

She is committed to serve as IMF managing director for five years after three previous directors, all Europeans, left the job early.

Although not an economist, Lagarde, 55, gained wide respect as France's point-woman during its leadership of the G20 as well as in European debt talks over the past three years.

She was faced with an immediate crisis as violent Greek protests rocked the stability of the eurozone.

© 2011 AFP

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