Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton has said the Government would be 'very well disposed' to the candidature of the French finance minister Christine Lagarde as the new head of the IMF.

But she added that the Government would not be taking a position unless and until Ms Lagarde was nominated for the post.

Speaking to reporters at a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels, Ms Creighton said Ms Lagarde had been very supportive and sensitive to Ireland's position on a reduction in the interest rate it pays for the bailout, despite well-reported French insistence that Ireland raise its corporation tax rate.

She said Ireland would be anxious to have a European lead the IMF.

Asked if Ms Lagarde's appointment as managing director of the IMF could upset the delicate negotiations going on between Ireland and France on the interest rate issue, Ms Creighton said she hoped that whoever might replace her - should she be nominated and appointed to the IMF job - would continue friendly relations with Ireland.

Ms Creighton said the government was 'still working' on getting a reduction of the interest rate, adding that it was a sensitive political issue.

Meanwhile, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore is to meet his French counterpart Alain Juppé tomorrow afternoon in Paris, and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan TD will also meet Ms Lagarde on Wednesday.

The meetings will be held against the backdrop of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the international economic organisation the OECD.

Both meetings are likely to focus on the interest rate issue.

Ms Lagarde said this afternoon that it was 'premature' to talk of her taking the helm of the IMF.

Asked on US news channel CNBC what she would say if offered the post, Ms Lagarde replied: 'I'd say what an interesting question, but clearly premature.

'It's for others to decide, my dear.'

Ms Lagarde's candidacy for IMF chief gained momentum in Europe at the weekend while Mexico put forward its own candidate, ensuring competition for the top job.

The Mexican finance ministry said it would nominate central bank chief Agustin Carstens, placing a prominent emerging market name into the race to lead the global lender.

The International Monetary Fund has promised a merit-based process to replace its former leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is under house arrest in New York on charges he attempted to rape a hotel maid.

But Europeans have held the top IMF job since its creation in 1945, and Lagarde is widely considered the front-runner.

French Interior Minister Claude Guéant, a top advisor to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said yesterday that Lagarde would make an excellent head of the Washington-based lender. 'Many countries support her,' he told Europe 1 radio, becoming the first member of France's cabinet to openly tout her credentials.

Germany and Britain have also signaled they would line up behind Lagarde, who has experience managing the euro-zone debt crisis the IMF is now focused on.