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France backs IMF's anti-austerity call -finmin

PARIS, Oct 12 (Reuters) - France supports the IMF's call to give indebted southern European countries more time to improve their finances, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici told a newspaper on Friday, putting Paris at loggerheads with Berlin.

The International Monetary Fund was sharply rebuked by Germany on Wednesday for warning that cutting too much, too fast would do struggling euro zone economies more harm than good.

"France shares the view of IMF director Christine Lagarde, according to whom austerity is not a solution for Europe over the medium-term," Moscovici said in an interview carried on Le Monde's website.

"The IMF message interests us because it is healthy," he added.

Lagarde, a former French finance minister, said in Tokyo that Greece needed more time to repair its tattered finances, as did Portugal and Spain.

The IMF released new research this week showing that fiscal consolidation has a much sharper negative effect on growth than previously thought. Since the global financial crisis, these so-called fiscal multipliers have been as much as three times larger than they were before 2009, the IMF research shows.

French President Francois Hollande was elected in May partly on pledges to shift Europe's focus away from German-imposed austerity towards measures to boost flagging growth.

"Europe will not be liked by the people unless it offers a new growth perspective," Moscovici said. "That's why we support a reorientation of Europe's construction in this direction."

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Catherine Evans)

((leigh.thomas@thomsonreuters.com)(+33 1 4949 5143)(Reuters Messaging: leigh.thomas.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: IMF ECONOMY/