Group of Eight leaders unanimously back French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde's bid to become the next head of the International Monetary Fund, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Sunday.

France was careful not to speak out about Lagarde's candidacy during the G8 summit that took place in Deauville on Thursday and Friday.

Juppe said the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and the European members of the group -- France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany -- were firmly in favor of Lagarde.

Among the eight heads of state and government, plus the president of the European Commission and the president of the European Council who were there, there was unanimous support for Christine Lagarde, Juppe said on Canal+ television.

The top IMF job is vacant after Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned over attempted rape charges which he has vowed to fight.

Lagarde is due to fly to Brazil later on Sunday as part of a campaign to win support for her candidature from emerging economies which have criticized EU officials for suggesting the new head must be a European.

The only other declared candidate is Mexican Central Bank Governor Agustin Carstens.

(Reporting by Yves Clarisse; Writing by Helen Massy-Beresford)