World Bank sets plan to pick Zoellick's successor

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By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The World Bank plans to select its next president by the time of its spring meetings in late April, it announced Friday.

The bank's 25-member executive board said it will accept nominations until March 23.

The board said it will choose up to three candidates to interview. It wants to finalize its selection by the time of the April 20-22 meetings of the World Bank and its sister lending organization, the International Monetary Fund.

Robert Zoellick, the current World Bank president, announced Wednesday that he will step down when his five-year term ends June 30.

Since the IMF and the World Bank were created, the top IMF job has always gone to a European, and the World Bank post has gone to an American.

But China, now the world's second-largest economy, and other emerging economic powers such as Brazil and India have argued that they, too, deserve consideration for the leadership of the two organizations.

The IMF and World Bank have adopted new selection guidelines aimed at ensuring a more open process. But in June, when the IMF chose a new leader, it selected another European, Christine Lagarde.

Lagarde, then the French finance minister, was chosen after Dominique Strauss-Kahn abruptly stepped down from the IMF after being charged with attempted rape. The charges were later dropped.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Wednesday that the Obama administration would put forward a candidate for the World Bank post. But he didn't say whether the administration would consider promoting a non-American. Geithner said the United States wanted the World Bank's board to engage in an "open and expeditious" process.

Two Americans who have been mentioned for the post are Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. Clinton's spokeswoman said Wednesday that Clinton isn't interested in the job.

The United States has the largest voting share on the World Bank board. That gives it a dominant voice in deciding who will lead the institution, a major provider of development loans to poor nations.

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