President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim to succeed Robert Zoellick as the head of the World Bank, picking a Korean-born former HIV/AIDS official with the World Health Organization to lead the anti-poverty institution.
"The World Bank is more than just a bank. It's one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce poverty and raise standards of living in some of the poorest countries on the planet," Obama, who heads to Seoul, South Korea, late Friday for a nuclear security summit, said in the White House's sun-soaked Rose Garden.
"Nobody is more qualified to carry out that mission than Dr Jim Kim. It's time for a development professional to lead the world's largest development agency," Obama said, with Kim, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at his side.
The World Bank's board of directors is expected to confirm Kim's appointment. The organization has always been led by an American since its founding in 1944 to serve as a clearinghouse for the reconstruction of Europe in the aftermath of World War II, and Washington still has a majority of the votes.Obama considered other candidates for the job, including his ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry. Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, publicly campaigned for the post. Other names reportedly in the mix had included Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates as well as PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi and former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers.
By convention, the United States picks the World Bank president, while Europe chooses the head of its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund. Highly regarded French former finance minister Christine Lagarde currently holds the post.
But developing nations have put forth their own candidates for the World Bank job, arguing they need more of a say in the institution that overseas loans and grants to major development projects.
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