* Carstens faces challenge to convince Brazil
* Follows Lagarde visit to Brazil this week
* Carstens to hold a news conference at 1500 GMT
By Raymond Colitt
BRASILIA, June 1 Mexico's central bank chief,
Agustin Carstens, arrived in Brazil on Wednesday aiming to win
crucial support in Latin America for his bid to the lead the
International Monetary Fund.
Backing from the region's largest economy, which appears
unlikely, would be a major lift for Carstens, who is widely
seen as the underdog in the race against French Finance
Minister Christine Lagarde.
Carstens will try to capitalize on discontent in Brazil and
other major emerging economies over the practice of choosing a
European to head the global lender.
The resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who stepped down
as IMF managing director to defend himself against charges that
include attempted rape, has led to calls from developing
countries to end the traditional European lock on the job.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon called Brazilian
President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday to ask for her support for
Carstens' candidacy, a Brazilian government spokesman said.
Although Brazil has been a strong proponent of a greater
say for emerging economies in IMF decision-making, Carstens
faces a difficult task winning its support. Brazil rivals
Mexico for leadership in Latin America and sees Lagarde as
having more clout to push for IMF reforms.
Brazil has not officially sided with either candidate but
government officials say in private that the Rousseff
administration is inclined to back Lagarde.
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During her visit to the capital Brasilia on Monday, Lagarde
stressed that she would push reforms to give emerging economies
more say in IMF decision-making.
Carstens has questioned the argument made by several EU
leaders that a European IMF chief would be more suited to deal
with the euro-zone crisis. On recent stops in his international
support-building tour, he has argued that an outsider would be
in a better position to apply tough measures to help solve the
In an opinion piece published in the Financial Times,
Carstens said European countries should not overestimate the
role of the IMF in solving the sovereign debt crisis.
"From my own experiences in Mexico, as well as what I
observed while serving on the IMF's executive board and later
as a deputy managing director, for each country the tough
decisions are political and they need to be taken domestically.
The IMF cannot make these political decisions for Europe,
whether its managing director is European or not," he wrote.
Carstens has also said that a French government claim that
Lagarde has the support of the G8 group of leading economies
was political spin.
Spain said on Tuesday that it backed Lagarde but would vote
for Carstens because it shared with other countries a seat on
the IMF executive board, which is headed by a Mexican.
The board has a June 30 deadline for picking a successor.
Carstens is scheduled to hold a news conference at 1500 GMT
following his meeting with Finance Minister Guido Mantega. He
will meet Brazil's central bank chief Alexandre Tombini in Sao
Paulo on Thursday ahead of meetings with Argentine authorities
(Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Paul Simao)