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Lagarde to go on Brics charm offensive

May 26 2011 12:44 Reuters

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Paris/ Beijing - French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde plans to visit emerging countries such as China and Brazil soon to garner support for her bid for the top International Monetary Fund post, but no dates have been set yet, aides said on Thursday.
 
“(The date) hasn’t been decided yet,” one aide told Reuters.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have criticised EU officials for suggesting the next IMF chief must be a European, but have not come up with their own candidate.  

China said on Thursday that any decision on who should lead the IMF "should be made through democratic consultation", refraining from taking a firm public position on Lagarde's candidacy.

The faxed statement from the ministry, in response to a question about China's position on who should head the IMF, repeated Beijing's position that senior management of the organisation "should enhance representation of the emerging market countries and reflect changes in the world economy".

But the statement did not say directly whether China endorses or opposes Lagarde, or possibly the other declared candidate, Mexican Central Bank governor Agustin Carstens.

They are competing to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who faces charges of sexual assault and resigned from the position.

"There is a consensus among the leaders in the Group of 20 that the selection of the management of international financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, should abide by the principles of openness, transparency and being merit based," said the statement, echoing the foreign ministry's earlier comments on the issue.

"China has noted that countries concerned have proposed candidates for the executive directorship of the IMF. We hope that the decision will be made through democratic consultation on the basis of these above principles."

China's latest comment suggested that, at least, it expects some negotiation over who should replace Strauss-Kahn.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, IMF directors for China, Brazil, India, South Africa and Russia criticised European officials for implying the successor should be European.  

Hours before that, France's government had said China would back Lagarde.

China's central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, said last week the IMF's future leadership should reflect the growing stature of emerging economies, but stopped short of saying the head of the group should come from an emerging economy.

China is the biggest of the fast-growing emerging economies that will gain more say at the IMF under an agreement reached last year that reflects their growing economic power.
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