A dozen Latin American countries have thrown their support behind Mexican central banker Agustin Carstens' bid to become the new head of the International Monetary Fund.

The countries expressed support for Carstens “and invite other governments in the Americas to join” them, said Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, reading out a statement at the general assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) that concluded here on Tuesday.

The nations, said the statement, are convinced “of the need to promote greater participation of emerging economies in the region” in selecting the replacement of Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the world finance body.

The countries backing the 52-year-old Mexican banker were Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Under a tacit agreement, the leadership of the International Monetary Fund has been held by a European since its founding in 1945, while an American has occupied the top job at the World Bank.

Strauss-Kahn resigned last month after being accused of attempting to rape a chambermaid in a New York hotel.

Touting his credentials, Carstens has been on an international tour to promote the bid as his direct rival.

After meetings in Ottawa on Tuesday, Carstens said that Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney had indicated to him that Canada “would welcome an emerging-market” candidate for the job, but did reveal who they will back for the post.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, has also embarked on a similar mission.

In Beijing on Wednesday, after talks in India that did not yield any public endorsement, Lagarde met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who after their meeting said the race to lead the IMF was “open.” - Sapa-AFP