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Debt envoy puts his foot in it

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The feet of Jeffrey Franks, head of the IMF mission to Romania, who had a hole in one of his shoes during a meeting with Romanian President Traian Basescu(AP)

The feet of Jeffrey Franks, head of the IMF mission to Romania, who had a hole in one of his shoes during a meeting with Romanian President Traian Basescu(AP)

The feet of Jeffrey Franks, head of the IMF mission to Romania, who had a hole in one of his shoes during a meeting with Romanian President Traian Basescu(AP)

Heavily in debt Romania is wondering whether one of the International Monetary Fund inspectors that visited the country is in need of a loan himself after he was pictured with a hole in his shoe.

Romania has borrowed billions from the IMF but Jeffrey Franks' decidedly worn footwear was on show during a visit to President Traian Basescu.

The image has eclipsed any of Mr Franks' comments about public spending, redundancies or inflation in the country.

Mysteriously, the photo of the shoe also disappeared today from its previous location on the presidential website.

No matter, the shoe kept dominating the news.

"There is no excuse to go to the president of a country with torn shoes," popular television commentator Mircea Badea said.

Mr Franks was asked to comment on the shoe at a news conference on the Romanian economy.

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"I prefer to talk about Romania, not personal matters," he said, but added "I changed my shoes today."

Style-conscious Romanians were still not satisfied, with Realitatea TV noting that Mr Franks was wearing a black suit with brown moccasins that had seen better days.

Cobbler Stefan Filipas from the western city of Arad then stepped into the debate. "I will repair them or send him a new pair crafted from Romanian materials, so he has something to remember Romania by, like we remember him," he said.


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