Bank's new chief 'must be French'

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The Independent Online
FRANCOIS MITTERRAND yesterday insisted that a Frenchman replace Jacques Attali, the disgraced head of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

The French President told a news conference in London after talks with John Major that under the original agreement for the establishment of the EBRD, its headquarters were to be in London and its presidency for the first four years be held by the French. If a president left before that time, the post would remain in French hands until the end of the agreed term.

Mr Mitterrand also said that the European Monetary System (EMS) 'must survive' and 'impose itself' in the international monetary markets. The summit, also attended by the French Prime Minister, Eduard Balladur, was overshadowed by the assault on the French franc, but Mr Mitterrand said that France's commitment to the EMS 'can't be put in doubt'. Britain and France had 'different views in this field' but 'we intend to co-ordinate our efforts'.

The two also failed to reach any agreement on the world trade accord being negotiated under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt), but are to continue talks in September.

Despite these differences, Mr Mitterrand said that the number of areas of convergence was growing. Mr Major expressed satisfaction at the greater spirit of co-operation between the two countries. He said the results could be seen in shared views on foreign policy areas, notably Bosnia. The summiteers cleared the air over the question of safe areas and agreed on the need for air support.

On European Community matters, the Prime Minister said that France and Britain were increasingly at one over subsidiarity - reducing the influence of Brussels by getting decisions on national isssues taken at the lowest practical level. They had agreed that 24 community directives be repealed, withdrawn or amended.