Britain's finance minister endorsed his French counterpart Christine Lagarde on Sunday to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund, as the process for selecting a new head begins.

We support her because she's the best person for the job, but I also personally think it would be a very good thing to see the first female managing director of the IMF in its 60-year history, British Finance Minister said in  a released statement.

He said she had shown real international leadership in chairing the g20 finance ministers.

The finance ministers of France and Singapore are among the names being floated to succeed Strauss-Kahn as early as June 30 as the head of the International Monetary Fund, a bank of last resort for the world's nations.

The fund on Friday laid out the process for selecting a new managing director. Kahn resigned Wednesday to focus on defending himself in New York against charges he sexually attacked and attempted to rape a hotel worker.

A shortlist is expected to be presented to the IMF executive board at least by June 10, with the nomination period starting on May 23, the IMF said in a released statement.

Only members of the executive board can nominate candidates.

The shortlisting process will take into account candidates who receive the most support, the and the fund's weighted voting system.

On Friday German Chancellor Angela Merkel also praised Lagarde but did not directly endorse her.

A pair of finance ministers from Southeast Asian nations backed Singapore finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Philippine Finance Secretary Cesasr Purisima told Bloomber TV on Friday that Shanmugaratnam is certainly well qualified and that the IMF should consider all candidates including those from Asia and Latin America.

Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanjj said Asia has good candidates, including Shanmugaratnam, according to Bloomberg.