UNITED NATIONS -- A Pakistani expert on family planning is to be named the first woman to head a United Nations agency, U.N. officials said Sunday.
The appointment of Dr. Nafis Sadik, 58, to head the U.N. Fund for Population Activities will be announced by Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar on Monday, the officials said.
Sadik is currently the third-highest ranking official at the controversial agency whose funding from the United States was cut off last year because of its policy toward abortion.
The appointment will end a race that also included candidates from Japan and Canada since the death of its former head, Rafael Salas of the Phillipines, last month.
Sadik, a gynecologist who headed Pakistan's national family planning organization before joining the United Nations in 1971, was not immediately available for comment.
A Western diplomat said Sadik's appointment may improve relations between the agency and the United States, which used to provide nearly $40 million a year for its programs worldwide.
Sadik has been involved in negotiating with the Americans on the restoration of the contribution, which was cut off last year when the United States accused the agency of involvement in a coersive abortion program in China.
The agency has denied it is involved in the Chinese abortion program.
U.N. officials said Sunday the withdrawl of U.S. funds has not caused the cancellation of any of the agency's programs, but said it may prevent expansion into new programs in the future.
As the head of one of six U.N. specialized agencies, Sadik will have the rank of undersecretary general, the first woman to reach such a level. Only 23 percent of the U.N. work force is female.
Diplomatic sources said the appointment of Sadik may have been a cost saving measure since she already worked for the agency. They said the agency has not been able to hire new personnel from outside since the United States cut its support last year.
She is married to a Pakistani businessman in New York. The couple have three children and have adopted two others.