SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil believes the next head of the International Monetary Fund should come from a large emerging market country, but does not plan to pressure actively on the issue because Europe is likely to keep its "stranglehold" on the job, a senior government official told Reuters on Tuesday.
"We think it would be appropriate to have someone from emerging countries," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"We believe India and Brazil would be good options. But we also believe that Europe is likely to keep its deep stranglehold on the position, and so we're not planning to push very hard on this issue for now," the official added.
The future of the International Monetary Fund's leadership has been in doubt since Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested on Saturday in New York and charged with sexual assault and attempted rape.
The Brazilian official's comments follow a statement earlier Tuesday by China's foreign ministry, which said the selection process for IMF leaders should be based on "fairness, transparency and merit."
Finance Minister Guido Mantega said late on Tuesday that the Strauss-Kahn affair should not be used as a way to press for changes in the way the IMF head is picked. That discussion, Mantega told cable TV news channel GloboNews, "is too premature at this point."
"I am all appalled by this situation and I really hope that the situation gets resolved so Dominique can return -- he is probably one of the best IMF chiefs that we had in the past years," Mantega said.
Mantega's comments come in stark contrast to demands he has made over the past three years that the fund should revise the way it chooses its leadership.
Mantega had told an IMF panel in April -- before the scandal erupted -- that it was "high time" for the institution to break with its practice of traditionally appointing Europeans to the top job.
"I am really rooting for a good resolution of this so he can return to rule the institution," Mantega told GloboNews.
The Brazilian senior official said that early diplomatic signs indicated that, if Strauss-Kahn permanently steps aside from the IMF job, it will be hard to prevent another European from taking his place.
Reporting by Brian Winter; Editing by W Simon and Guillermo Parra-Bernal, Gary Hill