French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said on Thursday she is “very positive” about her talks in China where she is seeking support for her campaign to head the International Monetary Fund.
Ms. Lagarde is one of two declared candidates to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who quit three weeks ago after he was charged with sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid, an allegation he denies. The other candidate is Mexican Central Bank Gov. Agustin Carstens.
China has given no sign whether it backs either one, saying it wants the next IMF leader to be selected through “democratic negotiation.”
Ms. Lagarde has the backing of Britain, Germany and other European nations, but is courting China and other developing nations that have been pushing for a bigger say in the IMF.
“I am very positive about my trip to China,” Ms. Lagarde told a news conference a day after meeting central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan, Vice Premier Wang Qishan, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Finance Minister Xie Xuren.
Ms. Lagarde said she was “very confident” about her campaign, but that it was too early to say if she would win.
She said that in her talks with Chinese officials, both sides agreed the selection process should be open, transparent and merit based, irrespective of nationality.
China and other countries such as India, where Ms. Lagarde visited before coming to Beijing, have called for an end to the convention that requires the head of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund to be from Europe, but have not come together with a common candidate.
In India on Tuesday, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee would say only the IMF managing director should be chosen on merit, not nationality.
The next leader of the IMF, which lends money to countries to help resolve balance of payments problems and financial crises, will be elected June 30 by the body’s 24-member executive board. The IMF voting system gives the votes of European countries and the U.S. more weight.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa issued a joint statement late last month expressing support for “abandoning the obsolete unwritten practice” that requires the head of the IMF to be from Europe.