Washington Robert Zoellick, a nimble negotiator as trade chief and later as the country's No. 2 diplomat, is President Bush's choice to head the World Bank in hopes of ending the turmoil surrounding outgoing bank president Paul Wolfowitz.
Bush will announce the decision today, according to a senior administration official.
He would succeed Wolfowitz, who is stepping down June 30 after findings by a special bank panel that he broke bank rules when he arranged a hefty compensation package in 2005 for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, a bank employee.
The controversy led to calls from Europeans, the bank's staff, aid groups, Democratic politicians and others for Wolfowitz to resign from the poverty-fighting institution.
A seasoned veteran of politics both inside the Beltway and on the international stage, Zoellick, 53, has a knack for mastering intricate subject matter and translating it into policies. He is known for pulling facts and figures off the top of his head. He also has a reputation for being a demanding boss.
Bush's selection of Zoellick must be approved by the World Bank's 24-member board.
The White House expects Zoellick to gain the board's acceptance. The senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of Bush's announcement, said so far other nations have had a positive reaction.
The bank's executive directors, in a statement late Tuesday that made no mention of Zoellick by name, said it is essential the next president have a proven track record of leadership, experience managing a large international organization, a willingness to tackle governance reform and political objectivity and independence. While it had been informed that the United States will be nominating a candidate, the board also noted that nominations may be made by any executive director.
Zoellick announced last June that he was leaving his post as deputy secretary of state to join a Wall Street firm and work to develop investment markets around the world.