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EU urges European leader for IMF

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France's finance and economy minister Christine Lagarde has emerged as a potential candidate to replace IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn (AP)

France's finance and economy minister Christine Lagarde has emerged as a potential candidate to replace IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn (AP)

France's finance and economy minister Christine Lagarde has emerged as a potential candidate to replace IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn (AP)

Europe's top officials have closed ranks to demand that the IMF's next leader be a European, someone with enough technical expertise and political savvy to handle the continent's debt crisis.

Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who has been widely praised for his leadership of the Intentional Monetary Fund and its involvement in solving Europe's woes, resigned on Wednesday to devote "all his energy" to fighting sexual assault charges in New York.

The move heated up simmering debate over his successor, with Europe aggressively staking its traditional claim to the post even as fast-growing nations like China and Brazil say it is time to break that monopoly and seek an IMF chief from a developing nation.

The Washington, DC-based organisation is empowered to direct billions of dollars to stabilise the global economy.

Hours after Strauss-Kahn's resignation, everyone from the European Commission to the German chancellor to the French finance minister - herself a potential candidate - said the replacement should come from Europe.

They believe an intimate knowledge of Europe's debt crisis should be a critical element of any candidate's portfolio.

"From a European point of view, it is essential that the appointment will be merit-based, where competence and economic and political experience play the key role," said Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Monetary and Economic Affairs.

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"And in this current juncture it is a merit if the person has quite solid knowledge of the European economy and decision making."

France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has in recent days been touted in many European capitals as a good choice. A sharp, articulate negotiator, she has a strong international reputation and impeccable English after living in the United States for many years.

"I am convinced that she is a good candidate. I made a few trips with her to Asia. I was able to verify her popularity among ministers of large emerging countries," said France's transport minister, Thierry Mariani.


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