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May 25, 2011

Lagarde to Visit Emerging Economies Seeking IMF Support

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is actively campaigning for the top job at the International Monetary Fund, planning visits to China and other nations in a bid to broaden her support internationally.

Lagarde is expected to visit senior officials in some of the developing nations that have called on the IMF to select a new managing director from one of the emerging economies. Authorities in Brazil, India, China, and South Africa and other countries have complained that their growing role in the global economy is not reflected in leadership positions at the major international economic organizations.

The top IMF job suddenly came open this month when managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned after his arrest in New York on charges of sexual assault.  

Among Lagarde's potential rivals, Mexico has nominated its central bank governor and former finance minister Agustin Carstens, who once served as deputy managing director of the IMF for several years.

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

European nationals have held the leadership post at the IMF for decades by tradition, under an arrangement reached with the United States after World War II, which also guaranteed an American would head the World Bank.

Lagarde has wide support in Europe, where oddsmakers have ranked her a favorite to be chosen for the job.

The nomination period for the next IMF managing director ends June 10.  IMF officials say they hope to have a new leader in place by the end of June.