Bloomberg News

Clinton Aide Denies Secretary of State Seeks World Bank Post

June 09, 2011

(Adds additional Reines quotes, details on World Bank and IMF leadership from seventh paragraph.)

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton isn’t seeking the presidency of the World Bank, according to one of her top aides.

“It’s completely untrue. Reuters is 100 percent wrong,” Philippe Reines, Clinton’s chief of strategic communications and a deputy assistant secretary of state, said in an e-mail.

The report by Reuters today said the top U.S. diplomat has been in discussions with the White House about moving to head the World Bank next year. World Bank President Robert Zoellick’s term ends in the middle of 2012.

President Barack Obama would have to nominate Clinton for the position, which requires approval by the bank’s 187 member countries.

The World Bank finances projects in developing nations, including $1.5 billion in loans to help improve India’s rural roads last year. The Washington-based bank aims to reduce global poverty.

The Reuters report cited two anonymous sources as saying that Clinton had expressed interest in the job. A third unnamed source was cited as saying Obama supported a change in her role.

The White House refused to comment on the reports. Reines said in a second e-mail that Clinton “has not had any conversations with the president, the White House or anyone about moving to the World Bank.”

‘Absolutely No Interest’

He added that Clinton has “expressed absolutely no interest in the job” and “would not take it if offered.”

Maneuvering to replace Zoellick, who served U.S. trade representative under President George W. Bush, is tied up with the current contest to replace the disgraced head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

France’s finance minister Christine Lagarde and Mexico’s central bank governor Agustin Carstens are vying to succeed Strauss-Kahn, who resigned after his arrest in New York last month on charges of attempted rape and sexual assault.

Under an unwritten agreement that dates to the end of World War II, the IMF has always been led by a European while the World Bank has been headed by an American.

The U.S. has yet to formally endorse a candidate for the IMF post. Backing a non-European for the IMF could mean relinquishing U.S. control of the World Bank, an outcome that lawmakers who decide the U.S. funding for development banks are not ready to contemplate.

IMF Leadership

“For the sake of influencing policy and lending, as well as maintaining congressional support, it is very important that the World Bank continue to be led by an American,” U.S. Representative Nita Lowey of New York, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee panel that oversees foreign-aid spending, said in an e-mail.

The IMF provides emergency loans to countries in financial distress, committing about $105 billion in aid to Portugal, Greece and Ireland. The U.S. also controls the No. 2 job at the IMF, now held by John Lipsky, a former JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive.

Clinton, who sought the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, has said repeatedly that she isn’t interested in running again for the White House. She has told audiences that she would like to pursue a job that allows her to help women and girls, a core interest.

In January, her husband, Bill Clinton, said she was more interested in being a grandmother than being president.

--with assistance from Julianna Goldman in Washington. Editors: Terry Atlas, Leslie Hoffecker

To contact the reporters on this story: Nicole Gaouette in Washington at ngaouette@bloomberg.net; Sandrine Rastello in Washington at srastello@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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