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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Germans Push IMF Candidate

BERLIN -- Opposition from the United States to Europe's candidate to head the International Monetary Fund has less to do with his qualifications than with Washington's attempt to push through its vision of the organization's future, a top German government official said Thursday.

Hours before the IMF's executive board was to hold a straw poll on the three candidates for managing director, German Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der's foreign policy adviser Michael Steiner said Germany was standing behind its man: Deputy Finance Minister Caio Koch-Weser.

"We have an excellent candidate, no one can seriously dispute that," Steiner told ARD television, adding that he had unanimous backing from the 14 other European Union governments. "This candidate will stand in the straw poll and then after that we'll see."

Steiner said he believed the U.S. administration's refusal to back Koch-Weser for the post, which traditionally goes to a European, was not because the former World Bank official lacked sufficient experience or political stature, as the White House has maintained.

"It has to do with, 'How do we understand the future role of the IMF?'" Steiner said. "Is it a role that serves the entire world, the Third World, European interests? Or is it an organization that only serves the interests of one country?"

The United States and others have demanded reforms at the IMF in the wake of its criticized bailouts during financial crises in Russia and Asia.

Koch-Weser flew to Washington to lobby the IMF's 24-member board ahead of Thursday's straw vote on who should succeed Michel Camdessus of France, who retired last month after 13 years with the Fund.

The other candidates are acting IMF chief Stanley Fischer, a naturalized American born in Zambia, and Eisuke Sakakibara, former vice minister for international affairs at Japan's Finance Ministry.

A representative of 20 African nations nominated Fischer, while Sakakibara has the support of Asian nations. Their nominations, in defiance of past traditions putting Europeans at the helm, were seen as effectively a vote of no-confidence in Koch-Weser, who had to struggle to win unanimous backing even within the EU.

The IMF was not expected to officially release results of the informal straw vote.