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France backs IMF's anti-austerity call -finmin

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

The International Monetary Fund was sharply rebuked byGermany on Wednesday for warning that cutting too much, too fastwould 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 overthe medium-term," Moscovici said in an interview carried on LeMonde's website.

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

Lagarde, a former French finance minister, said in Tokyothat Greece needed more time to repair its tattered finances, asdid Portugal and Spain.

The IMF released new research this week showing that fiscalconsolidation has a much sharper negative effect on growth thanpreviously thought. Since the global financial crisis, theseso-called fiscal multipliers have been as much as three timeslarger than they were before 2009, the IMF research shows.

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

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

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Daniel Flynn andCatherine Evans)

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

Keywords: IMF ECONOMY/