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OTTAWA (Reuters) - France and Mexico have put forth strong contenders to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the IMF, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Wednesday, suggesting Ottawa will not endorse its own central bank chief as a candidate.
Media and pundits have tipped Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney as a good fit for the top job at the International Monetary Fund, but Canadian government officials had been silent on the matter.
Flaherty was asked at a news conference to confirm that Carney's name would not be put forward.
"There are at least two strong, qualified candidates: Christine Lagarde of France and Agustin Carstens, who is the present governor of the central bank of Mexico," Flaherty answered.
"I know them both very well, they're both highly qualified. Mark Carney is doing a very good job as a governor of the Bank of Canada," he said.
Lagarde formally joined the race to head the IMF on Wednesday and is seen as the overwhelming favorite to clinch the job after Strauss-Kahn quit to face sexual assault charges.
Flaherty said he shared the concerns of emerging economies over Europe's six-decade dominance of the IMF managing director position.
"I've had discussions with some of my colleagues. I think it is important that the process be open, merit-based and transparent. That is certainly a concern that has been expressed by some of the emerging economies, many of whom are members of the G20."
Flaherty said Canada is concerned about the European debt crisis and urged countries involved to take action quickly as experience shows such problems only worsen over time.
"We're very concerned that this situation be addressed and addressed sooner rather than later," he said.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Peter Galloway