US urges speedy selection of new IMF chief

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The United States on Thursday called for an open, prompt selection of the next IMF chief after the abrupt resignation of managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and said it was neutral on a possible successor.

"As acting managing director, John Lipsky will provide able and experienced leadership to the Fund at this critical time for the global economy," US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement.

"We want to see an open process that leads to a prompt succession for the Fund's new managing director."

Geithner's comments came amid global speculation about who will become the next managing director of the IMF after Strauss-Kahn resigned late Wednesday to fight sex charges in New York.

The leadership vacuum at the powerful institution, which makes loans to struggling economies, has prompted cries from the developing world for an end to the gentleman's agreement between the US and Europe that a European fills the post, and an American heads the World Bank.

At a conference at the IMF's Washington headquarters, the head of the Treasury's international affairs indicated the Obama administration was keeping its options open.

"We haven't taken a position on any particular candidate," Lael Brainard said.

Brainard was responding to a question of whether the US supports a certain candidate, and in particular the apparent European favorite for the job, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.

The United States is by far the largest stakeholder of the 187 member nations in the Washington-based institution, with nearly 17 percent of the vote.

Acting IMF chief John Lipsky said the Fund's executive board would meet Thursday to launch the search for a successor.

© 2011 AFP

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