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Washington Backs Lagarde to Head IMF

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde speaks to the media outside the International Monetary Fund in Washington, June 23, 2011.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde speaks to the media outside the International Monetary Fund in Washington, June 23, 2011.

The United States is supporting French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde in her bid to be the next head of the International Monetary Fund.  Russia and Brazil also publicly endorsed her on Tuesday.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner cited Lagarde's "exceptional talent and broad experience."  

Geithner also commended her rival for the post, Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens for a "strong and credible" candidacy.

IMF officials say the 24-member IMF Executive Board has started a meeting to consider the next IMF leader.  IMF officials have said they want to finish the process by the end of this month.  Many press reports say Lagarde will win the post.

The top IMF post is vacant because former Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned after being arrested in New York on charges of sexual assault.  He denies the allegations.

The IMF gives loans and technical advice to countries with economic problems, and has been playing a role in bailing out Greece.

Under a decades-old informal agreement, the head of the IMF has always been a European, while the top post at the World Bank has gone to an American.  Leaders of some emerging major economies have called this tradition "outdated" as Brazil, Russia, India, China and other nations play a large and growing role in the global economy.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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