Lagarde gets EU chocolates, best wishes for IMF

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said on Monday her European colleagues had given her chocolates...

Christine Lagarde

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said on Monday her European colleagues had given her chocolates and wished her well in her bid this week to become the first female head of the International Monetary Fund.

After a meeting of economic ministers from the 27-nation European Union in Luxembourg, which discussed plans to tackle Greece's debt crisis, Lagarde said her counterparts had given her a warm send off before she travels to Washington on Tuesday for an interview for the top job at the multilateral lender.

"My colleagues from the Ecofin paid me compliments, wished me luck and they have given me some chocolates which I would willingly share with you, but I think I will take them with me," she said.

Lagarde is the favourite to replace her countryman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned as managing-director of the Fund in May after he was arrested on charges of the attempted rape of a hotel maid in New York. He denies the charges.

Mexican Central Bank Governor Agustin Carstens is challenging her for the post, which has been held by Europeans since the Fund was launched in 1945.

Emerging economies are demanding a bigger voice in the IMF to match their growing economic clout. Russia, India, China and others say they want an end to a tradition that puts the IMF in European hands.

Lagarde has the backing of European countries. Few countries outside Latin America, however, have expressed support for Carstens.

The United States and Japan, with the two largest voting shares in the IMF, have not yet announced who they will support for the top post.

The IMF board is due to choose the next head of the global lender by June 30.