US Senator John Kerry, ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and economist Lawrence Summers have been shortlisted to be the next World Bank head, a source close to the institution has said. The source added that the US had yet to make a final decision.

Kerry was the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, when he lost to then-president George W Bush, and currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Rice previously served as a senior national security advisor to President Barack Obama during his successful 2008 White House campaign, and was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a prominent Washington think tank, for several years.

Summers served as Secretary of the Treasury under president Bill Clinton from 1999 to 2001 and is currently a Harvard University economics professor.

Last month World Bank President Robert Zoellick announced he would be stepping down when his five-year term ends on June 30. In an unwritten pact dating back to the creation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund nearly seven decades ago, the US has always put an American at the helm of the Bank and Europe has selected a European as IMF managing director.

But the clamour for a candidate from the developing world has grown louder in recent weeks. China and Brazil have called for a fair, competitive selection process, but neither has put forth an alternative candidate.

The World Bank has said it will accept nominations until March 23 and choose a new president to succeed Zoellick by April 20, the start of the World Bank and IMF's spring meetings in Washington.