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AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France, July 7 (Reuters) - ECB policymaker Benoit Coeure defended on Sunday the nomination of Christine Lagarde to lead the European Central Bank, saying that she was "uniquely qualified."
Lagarde, who headed the International Monetary Fund until European leaders tapped her last week to replace Mario Draghi at the ECB, has faced criticism that she is not a trained economist and has no experience in central banking.
"Christine Lagarde is uniquely qualified to lead the ECB at a time when challenges are both internal and external to the euro zone," Coeure told journalists on the sidelines of an economic conference in southern France.
"She knows how the global economy works. She knows how Europe works. And she knows how to talk to financial markets," he added.
Lagarde's nomination has reinforced financial market expectations of more monetary policy easing if it's needed, pulling bond yields lower.
A lawyer by training, Lagarde was France's finance minister under then president Nicolas Sarkozy until she left to lead the IMF, where her reputation as a shrewd navigator of international power politics has grown.
Lagarde was due to give a speech on Friday at the economic conference in Aix-en-Provence where Coeure spoke, but canceled her public appearance after her nomination last week.
She attended a performance of the opera Tosca in Aix-en-Provence on Saturday night on the sidelines of the conference, however, where many of the business leaders and politicians at the event go to socialize. (Reporting by Leigh Thomas, Edited by Inti Landauro and Sarah White)