Duisenberg says he won't retire

WIM DUISENBERG, the controversial president of the European Central Bank, yesterday dashed France's expectations that he would step down halfway through his eight-year term of office.

At the time of his appointment last May Mr Duisenberg said he did not wish to serve out the full term, in a move seen as a compromise with France. To the annoyance of other countries, it had been pushing its own candidate for the job.

However, he has never confirmed the French interpretation, and when asked whether he intended to leave after four years, the outspoken Dutchman told Le Monde, in an interview published today ahead of the launch of the euro: "I had hoped you would not ask this question. The answer is no." Separately, Mr Duisenberg said yesterday that no change in euro interest rates should be expected soon. All participating countries have reduced their key interest rates to 3 per cent during the past month.