The United States on Tuesday voiced support for the South Korean candidate to head Interpol amid controversy over his Russian rival.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. "strongly" endorses Kim Jong-yang, who is currently serving as the organization's acting president following the arrest of its former chief in his native China.

"We encourage all nations and organizations that are part of Interpol and that respect the rule of law to choose a leader with credibility and integrity that reflects one of the world's most critical law enforcement bodies," Pompeo said in a news conference. "We believe Mr. Kim will be just that."

The public backing comes a day before Interpol is set to pick a new president at an annual conference in Dubai.

The nomination of Alexander Prokopchuk to the job has sparked fear among Moscow's critics, who say the Russian interior ministry official could abuse his position to target political opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Source: Yonhap News Agency