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May 31, 2011

Mexican IMF Contender Visits Brazil

The head of Mexico's central bank says Latin American countries deserve greater representation at the International Monetary Fund.

Agustin Carstens made the comments Wednesday in Brazil, where he is seeking support for his bid to become the next managing director of the IMF.

Carstens met with Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega in Brazil's capital, Brasilia, and is scheduled to meet with the country's central bank chief Alexandre Tombini in Sao Paulo on Thursday.  

After the Wednesday meeting, Mantega told reporters it was a step forward to have a candidate from a developing nation in the running, after so many years of European leadership at the Fund.  He has said, however, that Brazil has not yet decided whom to support, and that the decision would be made based on merit, not nationality.  

On Monday, the other top candidate for the top IMF job, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, visited Brazil to seek its backing.  Lagarde said that if elected head of the IMF, she will push reforms to give Brazil and other emerging countries more influence at the lending institution.

The 55-year-old Lagarde already has the backing of European Union nations.  Lagarde's visit to Brazil was the first on a global tour that is expected to take her to India, China and several African nations.

European nationals have held the post at the IMF under an agreement reached with the United States after World War II, which stipulated that an American would head the World Bank.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has called both Lagarde and Carstens "credible" and "talented" candidates for the job.

Former IMF leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn of France resigned last month following his arrest in New York on charges of sexual assault.

The IMF is expected to announce the candidates for its top post by June 17 and the final selection will be made by June 30.