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IMF names veteran Argentina, Ukraine negotiator Kozack as new spokesperson

FILE PHOTO: The IMF logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday said she will appoint veteran IMF economist Julie Kozack, who now leads the fund's negotiations with Ukraine, as the chief spokesperson of the global lender.

Kozack, who holds a doctorate in economics from Columbia University, also oversaw the IMF's negotiations with Argentina. She currently serves as deputy director of the IMF's European Department.

She succeeds the fund's longtime spokesman, Gerry Rice, who guided IMF communications through global crises from the 2007-2009 financial meltdown through the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war.

"Julie’s stellar career at the fund over more than two decades reflects not only her standing as a top-notch economist and institutional leader, including as mission chief and lead negotiator on high-profile crisis countries, but also her exceptional communication skills,” Georgieva said in a statement on the fund's website.

Georgieva said Kozack's strategic thinking, innovative ideas and her capacity for building consensus and relationships, often under "very challenging circumstances," had earned her the respect of colleagues and external officials.

Kozack takes over as the fund's director of strategic communications at a time when Russia's war in Ukraine, rising interest rates and high rates of inflation are depressing global growth, which was just starting to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kozack's decades of experience at the IMF include key leadership roles in the Western Hemisphere, Asia and Europe, including serving as mission chief to Germany, Europe's largest economy. She worked on Russia during two separate stints and also led IMF teams to Poland, Lithuania and Iceland.

During her time in the IMF's research department, Kozack carried out global surveillance work for the Group of Seven rich nations and the larger Group of 20 major economies, which includes China and Russia.

Kozack has focused her research on sovereign debt issues and international capital flows, including publications on sovereign debt restructuring and sovereign wealth funds.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Editing by William Maclean)