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US Finance Official Calls for Interim IMF Chief


US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has urged the International Monetary Fund to formally appoint an interim leader while IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of France is held in New York on allegations of attempted rape and other crimes.

In a New York speech Tuesday, Geithner became the latest of several international finance officials to speak out about Strauss-Kahn and the future of the IMF.

Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter said Strauss-Kahn should quit to avoid damaging the IMF. Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado said her sympathies are with the woman who was allegedly assaulted.

Officials in China and Brazil suggest that the next IMF leader come from outside Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says world leaders should not pre-judge Strauss-Kahn. But she added that Europe has good candidates available to take his place.

Strauss-Kahn is accused of sex crimes including attempting to rape a maid at a luxury hotel in New York. He denies the charges.

Strauss-Kahn is in a New York City jail cell, where officers are taking precautions to prevent suicide. A New York judge denied bail for Strauss-Kahn, saying he might flee to avoid trial. He is due back in court on Friday.

Strauss-Kahn has weathered past scandals. In 2008 he apologized for what he termed an "error in judgment" for an affair with one of his subordinates. Also, a lawyer for French writer Tristane Banon says she may make a legal complaint against Strauss-Kahn, claiming he sexually assaulted her in 2002.

News reports say Strauss-Kahn was considering running for president in France. The allegations, and pictures of Strauss-Kahn in handcuffs, shocked people in his native country, where such pictures are banned until and unless someone is convicted of a crime.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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