| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO The International Monetary Fund is happy to play a behind the scenes role in resolving the European debt crisis, which needs to be tackled with fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, the lender's chief Christine Lagarde said on Friday.
Lagarde, in Brazil for the last leg of a Latin American visit to drum up support for more global cooperation, said the risk of contagion from the crisis had materialized.
"I'm very happy if the IMF is in the middle of it, but in an effective way, not necessarily a visible way," Lagarde said in the recording of a Globo News TV news show in Sao Paulo.
Lagarde urged euro zone countries to find a collective, comprehensive solution to the crisis or risk enduring a lost decade.
European leaders are scrambling for a definitive end to a spreading debt crisis that is dragging down global growth and could even spell the end of the 17-nation euro zone.
The crisis has boosted the role of emerging economies on the world stage, but could also prompt some to take protectionist measures, Lagarde said.
Lagarde commended Brazil's economic management and policies, which she says had left the country better prepared than many to weather potential contagion from the euro zone debt crisis.
Brazil and other major emerging countries have said they are willing to boost the IMF's war chest to help solve a crisis in Europe that is threatening their own growth.
After red-hot growth in 2010 Brazil's economy is now slowing more than expected, prompting the government to issue a flurry of measures to boost consumption and lending.
Other emerging markets are expected to move ahead with stimulus measures to shore up their economies hurting from a drop in global lending and trade.
(Reporting by Todd Benson; Writing by Alonso Soto, editing by W Simon )