By Valerie Hopkins
BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia has approached former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn about the possibility of him joining the government in an advisory role, deputy PM Aleksandar Vucic has told Reuters.
Serbia is set to begin long-awaited talks in January on joining the European Union. However, investors have been spooked by the state's growing public debt and squabbles over who will be finance minister that have all but buried hopes of a new precautionary loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.
Strauss-Kahn lost his place among the global economic elite and his French presidential hopes were crushed by a 2011 sex scandal in the United States.
Deputy PM Vucic said late on Tuesday that government aides had approached people close to Strauss-Kahn about the possibility of him being appointed an advisor to Serbia.
A source close to him told Reuters that the two would talk on Wednesday or Thursday.
The government is also approaching potential candidates from Britain to fill advisory roles, the source said, without disclosing any names.
A press agent for Strauss-Kahn, 64, said the Serbian government had not offered him anything at this stage.
Vucic told Reuters that foreigners without ties to domestic politics would be less inclined to corruption and he wanted at least two new foreigners in the new cabinet.
"We need these people who know more than us, and from whom our people can learn a lot. I will push for this and I don't care who it bothers," said Vucic, who is in charge of the government's anti-corruption drive, a key EU priority.
Investigating judges in France decided last week that Strauss-Kahn must face trial on allegations he was complicit in a pimping operation based in the northern city of Lille. He denies knowing the women involved were prostitutes and his lawyers say there are no grounds to try him.
In an interview with state-run Russian television channel Rossiya-24 released on Wednesday, Strauss-Kahn did not mention Serbia. He said he worked as an advisor to governments and companies in Russia, Africa and Latin America.
(Additional reporting by Chine Labbe and Natalie Huet in Paris; Editing by Catherine Bremer/Ruth Pitchford)