By Jason Lange
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico is leaning heavily toward nominating central bank chief Agustin Carstens to head the International Monetary Fund, a source familiar with the matter said on Saturday.
"There is a very strong inclination to present the nomination," said the source, who asked not to be identified.
Mexico's Finance Minister Ernesto Cordero said on Thursday Carstens would be the best candidate to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned as IMF chief to face charges he tried to rape a hotel housekeeper in New York.
The IMF will start accepting nominations on Monday.
Strauss-Kahn's arrest on May 14 sparked debate over the 65-year-old tradition of a European heading the IMF. Officials in some emerging market countries have said it is time for someone from the developing world to lead the global lender.
Carstens was a deputy managing director at the IMF for three years before joining Mexican President Felipe Calderon's administration as finance minister in 2006. He became Mexico's central bank governor in January 2010.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is seen as the current front-runner to succeed Strauss-Kahn at the IMF. Britain endorsed Lagarde on Saturday, becoming the first G7 country to officially back her.
Any serious contender would have to move quickly to counter Lagarde's momentum. Mexico was "very likely" to announce Carstens' nomination within the next few days, the source said.
Calderon's government has urged publicly that the next IMF boss should not be chosen based on their nationality.
Asian, Middle Eastern and African diplomats at the IMF headquarters in Washington said on Friday that emerging nations were seeking a consensus candidate. Kemal Dervis, a former Turkish economy minister, was seen as another front-runner but ruled himself out on Friday.
With the sudden vacancy at the top, the IMF board has said the process to find a new chief would be completed by June 30.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)