The International Monetary Fund said Monday it will interview the two leading candidates for the top job at the 187-nation lending institution this week with the goal of naming a new chief by June 30.
In a statement, the IMF said that Agustin Carstens, the head of Mexico's central bank, will meet with the agency's executive board on Tuesday. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde will be interviewed on Wednesday.
Lagarde is considered the front-runner for the position to succeed former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned last month after he was charged with sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid, an allegation he denies.
The IMF said that its 24-member executive board will meet on June 28 to pick a new managing director with the aim of completing the process by June 30.
The IMF said that Carstens and Lagarde will be able to present their views on issues facing the IMF during their separate meetings with the board. Their prepared statements will be posted on the IMF website following their interviews. The two candidates will also meet in the coming week individually with the 24 officials who sit on the IMF board.
Carstens, who was in Washington last week, met with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who is expected to meet this week with Lagarde. The United States, which controls the largest number of voting shares at the IMF, has yet to endorse a candidate.
In an interview last week, Carstens said that he knows he faces an uphill battle against Lagarde, who has received solid backing from European nations. But he argued that he is the more qualified candidate and that it is time to break the tradition of always having the IMF headed by a European.
The IMF's sister lending institution, the World Bank, has always been headed by an American. The two organizations were created following World War II.
Lagarde is a lawyer by training while Carstens holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago.
China, India and Brazil, three fast-growing emerging market countries, have also argued that the IMF process for choosing its leader should be more open. But none of those nations has so far come out in support of Carstens.