IMF chief calls for united European response to crisis

PARIS (AFP) — IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn called Saturday on European countries to provide a united response to the financial crisis, following talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"In Europe there is a need for coordination," Strauss-Kahn told journalists hours before a mini-summit of European leaders. "It has to be indicated to the markets... that European countries will not react every man for himself.

"The situation is very worrying. The banks' losses are the worst we've ever seen," the International Monetary Fund's chairman warned. "The IMF thinks it's a global problem that needs a global response."

Strauss-Kahn's meeting with Sarkozy came just hours before the French president was due to host his British, German and Italian counterparts at a summit to discuss Europe's response to the global financial crisis.

"President Sarkozy wants the Europeans to be coordinated. He wants a collective response. He wants to avoid a lack of solidarity between Europeans. This is the right response," Strauss-Kahn said.

France spent the week pushing for a Europe-wide fund to underwrite fragile banks caught out by the international credit crunch, but Germany and Britain have ruled out this approach, prefering to act on a case-by-case basis.