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Jospin names ministers for left-wing rule

Paris (Reuters) - Lionel Jospin, the new Socialist Prime Minister, formed France's new left-wing government yesterday comprising 14 full ministers, with the Socialist Martine Aubry, as his number two, holding a superministry for employment and social solidarity.

President Jacques Chirac's office announced that Dominique Strauss- Kahn, author of the Socialist Party's economic platform in the parliamentary election which ended last Sunday, was appointed minister of economics, finance and industry.

Hubert Vedrine, former chief-of-staff to the late president Francois Mitterrand, was appointed foreign minister, and Alain Richard, a Socialist budget expert, will be defence minister.

Socialist Elisabeth Guigou was appointed justice minister, and Mr Jospin's close adviser Claude Allegre, a university professor, minister of education, research and technology. The Prime Minister's other closest political associate, Daniel Vaillant, was named minister for relations with parliament.

Jean-Pierre Chevenement, leader of the anti-Maastricht Citizens' Movement, was named interior minister, and Communists Jean-Claude Gayssot and Marie- George Buffet were appointed, respectively, minister of infrastructure, transport and housing and minister of youth and sports.

Catherine Trautmann, the mayor of Strasbourg, will be minister of culture and communications and government spokeswoman, and Louis Le Pensec takes charge of agriculture and fisheries. Both are Socialists.

Dominique Voynet, the Greens party leader, was given the environment and regional development ministry and for the centre-left Radical Socialist Party, Emile Zuccarelli will be minister of the civil service, administrative reform and decentralisation.

Mr Strauss-Kahn, 48, a former industry minister, made his name as a strong advocate of the French concept of a mixed economy coupling gradual free- market reform with the defence of a strong state role in industry. A close confidant of Mr Jospin, he has championed the party line on Europe which favours closer integration and monetary union but demands further talks on the details of the planned euro currency in 1999.

He was among the first to suggest criteria in the Maastricht treaty on monetary union be interpreted politically rather than in strict mathematical terms. He has also advocated a slightly "softer" euro, saying it should be used to boost job creation and economic growth.

Hubert Vedrine, the new foreign minister, has long experience of the delicate art of "cohabitation" - power-sharing between a president and government of different parties. He is also a leading experts on strategy and international relations.

Mr Vedrine, 49, who takes a portfolio that will involve travelling abroad with President Chirac, earned his spurs as diplomatic adviser, strategic affairs adviser, spokesman and chief aide to Mr Mitterrand. "He knows the ministry inside out," a foreign ministry source said.

He has criticised Mr Chirac's moves to bring France back into Nato's US-led military wing, saying Paris should not make concessions without achieving a real shift of power to the Europeans within the alliance.