UPDATE 1-Saudi fin min: too early to offer IMF contribution

Tue Feb 7, 2012 4:30am EST

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* Decisions to boost IMF capital may come later

* In everybody's interest to resolve euro crisis

By Marwa Rashad and Ibrahim al-Mutawa

RIYADH, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf said on Tuesday that it was too early for his country to offer a fresh financial contribution to the International Monetary Fund.

Alassaf, speaking to reporters at a business conference in the Saudi capital, said the issue would be discussed at a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 nations in Mexico City on Feb. 25-26.

Decisions may be made at a later date to boost the IMF's capital and for some IMF member states to provide additional funding, he said.

The IMF is seeking to more than double its war chest by raising $600 billion in new resources to help countries deal with the fallout of Europe's debt crisis. Wealthy oil exporters in the Gulf, as well as big emerging economies such as China, are expected to be asked to contribute much of the increase.

"The other member states believe that the main and first role should be the European Union's, and then the other states can provide support," Alassaf said.

However, he also said: "Although the crisis is mainly European, it is in the interest of everyone that the crisis doesn't deepen and to ensure the return to growth of Europe.

"What will be discussed at the G20 meeting is what the role is of the European Union and the member states in the IMF."

INFLUENCE

Alassaf did not link any future Saudi contribution to the IMF to the idea of giving Saudi Arabia and other major emerging economies more representation and authority at the Fund, which has been dominated by Western powers.

But in a speech last month, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal, who no longer holds government office but is still seen as influential, said big emerging economies would not aid the West unless they were given more say in running the global economy.

Ending a visit to Riyadh on Saturday, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde publicly praised Saudi Arabia's role in stabilising the global economy but said nothing about the possibility of a fresh Saudi contribution to IMF resources.

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