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IMF head seen as German president nominee
Updated: 2004-03-04 13:12

Germany's center-right parties will nominate International Monetary Fund chief Horst Koehler to vie for the country's presidency, an official said Thursday.

Since the parties hold a majority in the assembly that chooses the next president in May, nomination would virtually assure Koehler, 61, of winning the largely ceremonial post.

Word that the IMF managing director would be tapped trickled out after leaders of the Christian Democratic Union party met in Berlin until early Thursday morning.

The source, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said they won the approval of the chairmen of two smaller parties, the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union and the Free Democrats.

An official announcement on the nomination was expected later Thursday, the source said. It was not known whether Koehler would accept.

Koehler has led the Washington-based International Monetary Fund since 2000, a post that has heightened Germany's stature in global finance and diplomacy but left him little-known in his own country.

He worked for more than a decade in the German Finance Ministry under former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who once called him "a treasure" and relied on him in economic diplomacy.

Koehler is a member of the Christian Democratic Union, the party once led by Kohl.

German presidents wield limited powers, but they have moral authority and represent the country abroad.

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