The International Monetary Fund can still play a full role in resolving the euro zone crisis, even with its managing director facing sexual assault charges in New York, a German government spokesman said on Monday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, also said that while it was not the right time to discuss who should succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the International Monetary Fund, Europe did not have an automatic right to the job but there was a good case for looking for a European candidate.
"The IMF will be able to play its role in solving the world's financial problems and specifically the problems of the euro zone, where it plays a really important role, without any limits," Seibert told a regular news conference in Berlin.
Euro zone finance ministers were set on Monday to back an European Union/IMF bailout for Portugal, in talks overshadowed by the charges against Strauss-Kahn.
The IMF chief was charged on Sunday with trying to rape a New York hotel maid, sparking speculation about who would replace him as head of the Washington-based lender and also in the French presidential election campaign.
"The German government finds any discussion about possible successors for Mr Strauss-Kahn inappropriate at this time," Seibert said.
Emerging countries such as China, India and Brazil have asserted pressure for their increased economic weight and priorities to be reflected in the IMF's leadership.
"Europe has no subscription to this executive position," Seibert said. "If you look at the current situation, where coping with the crisis in several euro states is absorbing the IMF so much, there are several reasons for the government to argue that there is a good European candidate.
"We will talk about that with all our partners in the IMF in case a successor is even needed," Seibert said, emphasizing that Strauss-Kahn was "innocent until proven guilty."
Asked whether Italy's Mario Draghi may now be a candidate to head the IMF instead of running as a successor for European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet, as one German magazine had reported, Seibert said: "The German government, like other European governments, has voiced its support for Mario Draghi at the helm of the ECB if he makes his candidacy official and that remains the case."
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