Too early to discuss replacing IMF chief: Berlin

BERLIN Wed May 18, 2011 9:19am EDT

BERLIN (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund should be left to deal with its immediate leadership issues internally and it is too early to discuss replacing Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Germany said on Wednesday.

Government spokesman Christoph Steegmans was responding to a proposal by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday that the IMF should seek an interim head after Strauss-Kahn was arrested on charges of sexual assault in New York.

"We believe the IMF will find a way to assure its capabilities and we also believe that it is good the IMF conducts this debate internally first," Steegmans said at a regular news conference.

With Strauss-Kahn facing growing pressure to quit as head of the IMF after his arrest on attempted rape charges, Europe has sought to fend off a challenge from developing countries to fill a post it has traditionally held.

Steegmans repeated Chancellor Angela Merkel's position that a European would be better positioned to handle the debt crisis on the region's periphery, should Strauss-Kahn be replaced, but stressed that it is too early to open such a discussion.

"To be very honest, the question of a successor at the IMF is not yet being raised today. We must therefore await developments and the investigation in New York," he said.

(Reporting by Brian Rohan; editing by Patrick Graham)

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