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Japan minister 'surprised' at Strauss-Kahn arrest

17 may 2011, 17:21
Japan's finance minister said Tuesday he was surprised at the arrest on sexual assault charges of IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, saying it came at a "crucial time" for the European Union, AFP reports.

"Frankly speaking, I was surprised", Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said at a news conference after a regular cabinet meeting.

"At a crucial time for the European Union on various issues, I am hoping that acting managing director (John) Lipsky will fill the gap left by Strauss-Kahn and help the IMF play its role and fulfill its mandate."

International Monetary Fund managing director Strauss-Kahn has been charged with the sexual assault and attempted rape of a New York hotel chambermaid.

Lawyers for the 62-year-old French politician told a court on Monday he was innocent and a judge denied him bail.

Until the scandal broke on Saturday evening, the distinguished head of the IMF had been seen as the most likely candidate to unseat Nicolas Sarkozy in France's 2012 presidential elections.

The case has embarrassed the IMF and put it under pressure to find fresh leadership as it wrestles with a deep and complex financial crisis across Europe.

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