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Korean-American physician tapped as World Bank leader

President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Dr. Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-born physician, to lead the World Bank, citing his tireless efforts to improve the lives of people in developing nations and promote global health.

"Jim has spent more than two decades working to improve conditions in developing countries around the world,” Obama said in a statement. “The World Bank is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce poverty and raise standards of living around the globe, and Jim’s personal experience and years of service make him an ideal candidate for this job.”

Born in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, in 1959, Kim moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 5 years old. Kim has served as the president of Dartmouth College since 2009.

As a pioneer in the treatment of HIV, AIDS and tuberculosis, Kim has the breadth of experience on development issues needed to carry out the financial institution's anti-poverty mission, Obama said.

Kim is expected to be formally chosen as president of the financial institution, tasked with reducing poverty and support development around the world, next month by its 25-member executive board.

If selected, he would replace Robert Zoellick, who announced in February that he was stepping down.

Obama's unexpected pick of the Korean-American figure was seen as aimed at countering a claim by African and Latin American countries that the U.S., the world's largest economy with the biggest clout in the World Bank, has installed Americans only into the top post at the 187-nation World Bank.

Its mission is reduce poverty and support development, serving as a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries.

"It's time for a development professional to lead the world's largest development agency," Obama said.

Many welcomed Kim's nomination.

“Jim Yong Kim is exceptionally well qualified to serve as president of the World Bank. He is an innovative leader whose groundbreaking work to fight disease and combat poverty has saved lives around the globe," said U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said, "Jim Kim is an inspired and outstanding choice to lead the World Bank based on his years of commitment and leadership to development and particularly health care and AIDS treatment across the world."

Clinton added, "He will be the most experienced development expert to ever take the helm of the World Bank and I compliment President Obama for putting that type of proven commitment to global development at the top of his criteria for choosing the World Bank’s next leader."

(Yonhap News)

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