While describing former French Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn as a "very good candidate" to head the International Monetary Fund, German officials said they want to keep their options open for now.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn attends hasn't said whether he's interested
French President Nicolas Sarkozy had named the socialist politician as his choice to head the IMF, which is in search of a new leader after Rodrigo de Rato from Spain announced he plans to step down in October -- two years ahead of schedule.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy
"Could I deprive France of his candidacy just because he's a socialist?" Sarkozy asked in an interview with French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, adding that Strauss-Kahn is "the most able candidate for the post" and shares his "vision of the IMF's operating."
Sarkozy said that he had already proposed Strauss-Kahn's candidacy to US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Germany's Horst Köhler headed the IMF before becoming his country's president in 2004
According to media reports, the German government was irritated by Sarkozy's move. A German finance ministry spokesman meanwhile told reporters that Germany considered Strauss-Kahn to be a very good, strong, European candidate, adding that ministry officials had been in close contact with the French counterparts about finding a new IMF head.
The ministry spokesman also said that Germany's aim was to find a strong, suitable European candidate for the job, adding that Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet would make the final decision about the German top choice.
Strauss-Kahn is one of the socialist heavy-weights and has so far canvassed in vain for a social democratic relaunch of his party. He has not said whether he would be willing to take on the IMF job.
European Union finance ministers early next week are due to discuss a European candidate for the IMF vacancy.
By an unwritten agreement, the Washington-based IMF is traditionally headed by a European while its sister institution, the World Bank, is run by an American.