Washington: World Bank President Robert Zoellick has announced to step down from at the end of his five-year-term in June, giving rise to speculation that the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, may be headed to replace him, which was immediately denied by her aide.
In a statement on Wednesday, World Bank said that its President Robert B Zoellick has announced that he would step down at the end of a five-year term in which a transformed Bank played an historic role during the global economic crisis, using record replenishment to provide more than $ 247 billion to help developing countries boost growth and overcome poverty.
"The Bank is now strong, healthy and well positioned for new challenges, and so it is a natural time for me to move on and support new leadership," Zoellick said in a statement.
Zoellick informed the Bank's Board on Wednesday morning of his decision.
Zoellick said through June 30 he will stay 100 per cent focused on being Bank President and will continue to drive policy and programmes at a heightened tempo.
Soon after the announcement, the US media reported that possible candidates include the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and Larry Summers, the former economic adviser to the US President, who is now a professor at the Harvard University.
"I really don't have any information for you on potential successors at the World Bank," the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, said.
"The Secretary has addressed this issue many times since last year. She has said this is not happening. Her view has not changed," the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters at her daily news conference.
But these two denials did not prevent US media to report on her possible venture at the World Bank.
"Clinton long has been mentioned as a possible successor to Zoellick, and a news report last spring said she had engaged in discussions with White House officials about taking the high-profile post as a career-capping assignment," The Los Angeles Times reported.
"The reports seemed credible given Clinton's strong interest in international development. But the former first lady and US senator flatly denied any interest, saying she looked forward to getting out of the fast lane, it said.
While the World Bank President is formally appointed by it member nations, under a decade-old agreement, that allows major European powers to choose the head of the IMF, gives the US the role of naming the World Bank chief.
The US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, in a statement said in the coming weeks, the United States plans to put forward a candidate with the experience and requisite qualities to take this institution forward.
Under Bob s leadership, the Bank has become a more effective, accountable, and transparent institution, he said.
In a statement, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said Zoellick has served the international community including the membership of the World Bank Group and IMF with great distinction.
Bob will be leaving the Bank with a record of achievement of which he can be very proud.
It has been a pleasure working with him both in my capacity as Managing Director and as a finance minister, she said.