U.S. pick for World Bank makes case to board directors

WASHINGTON Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:43pm EDT

Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim, U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee to president of the World Bank, reaches out to shake hands as he arrives for meetings at the bank's headquarters in Washington, April 11, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim, U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee to president of the World Bank, reaches out to shake hands as he arrives for meetings at the bank's headquarters in Washington, April 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jim Yong Kim, the U.S. nominee to head the World Bank, on Wednesday told the bank's board of directors that he would not hesitate to question the status quo and do his best to help the world's poorest.

In a two and a half page address made public by the Treasury Department, Kim outlined the reasons why he believed his training as a public health expert and former president of Dartmouth College equipped him with the skills needed to take over the World Bank in June when current president Robert Zoellick steps down.

"You would find in me someone who asks hard questions about the status quo and is not afraid to challenge existing orthodoxies," Kim said. "I'd bring rigor, objectivity and a focus on data that help all of us define and achieve our shared vision of securing strong economic growth and delivering greater opportunity for the world's poor," he said.

Kim was expected to undergo a round of questioning from bank directors as the two other contenders for the job -- Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo -- already have done.

A decision on Zoellick's successor is to be made public by the time the bank and its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund, hold semi-annual meetings in Washington April 20-22.

Kim has been on a world tour that has taken him to Asia and Latin America to meet finance leaders and to try to drum up support for his U.S.-backed candidacy.

A leading global financial journal, The Economist, said in a recent edition that it thinks Okonjo-Iweala is better qualified to take over the World Bank than is Kim. The journal cited her experience in economics and finance and rated it as superior to Kim's background.

(Reporting By Glenn Somerville, Rachelle Younglai)

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