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IMF's Lagarde urges Britain, EU to save 'long marriage'

[WASHINGTON] International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde urged Britain and the European Union Thursday to keep communications open to avoid the failure of an "long marriage" with the Brexit vote.

"It's been a long marriage between members of the European Union," she said.

"It's really my personal hope that it doesn't break. Like all marriages, good talks can actually help and I hope that the dialogue can continue."

Speaking at the opening of the spring meetings of the World bank and IMF, she called the risk that Britain would decide to pull out of the 28-nation European Union - "Brexit" - a "serious concern" to the global economy.

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She warned of continuing market fragility as the June 23 referendum on pulling out nears.

"Whatever happens, I think that all parties should rise above the domestic circle and should have a broader view of what lays ahead in terms of collective endeavor."

"Because keeping Europe together after what it has gone through over the last century, and what the risks are on the horizon.... is actually a huge asset which is vastly underrated in my view."

In its assessment of the state of the world economy released earlier this week, the IMF called Brexit a leading risk to growth and warned that it "could do severe regional and global damage by disrupting established trading relationships."