Carstens seeks Japan support in IMF race

TOKYO, June 17, 2011 (AFP) - Mexico's candidate to lead the IMF called on Japan for support in his battle with France's Christine Lagarde, as he met with officials in Tokyo on Friday.

Agustin Carstens, 53, the governor of Mexico's central bank, is the clear underdog in the race to become the next managing director of the International Monetary Fund, following the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn last month.

AFP file - Agustin Carstens

In Tokyo after a visit to Beijing Thursday, Carstens met with a number of Japanese officials, including Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Noda did not express his view on candidates for the IMF job, Carstens said. Japan has yet to give its clear support to either candidate.

However, many expect the second-biggest stakeholder in the IMF after the United States to back frontrunner Lagarde, 55, who has already won support from European Union members and some other countries.

The US government has yet to make its position clear.

Carstens' campaign to win support from major emerging nations has faltered in the face of Lagarde's worldwide charm offensive.

Europe has maintained a 65-year lock on the top job at the Washington-based lender according to an unwritten agreement, but emerging nations such as China and India have questioned the tradition, calling it outdated.

The race for the IMF leadership began last month after Strauss-Kahn resigned to face sexual assault charges in New York.

Lagarde, France's finance minister, and Carstens were placed on the shortlist earlier this week by the IMF's 24-member board, which is expected to make a decision by June 30 after interviewing the candidates.

Carstens, who served as the IMF's number three from 2003-2006 before returning to Mexico City to become finance minister and then central bank chief, admitted in Beijing Thursday that getting the top job would be difficult.

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