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EU to Discuss Wolfowitz Nomination

A European Union summit starting Tuesday will discuss the nomination of U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz as World Bank president, after the candidate agreed to meet officials to explain his views. The choice has caused a stir in much of Europe where many see him as a controversial figure.

Fallout from the Iraq war, which caused a split between Europe and the United States, strongly influences the European view of the Wolfowitz nomination.

"The widespread one [view] is Wolfowitz pushed in favor of the Iraq war right from the beginning and since that war, as a whole, was considered to be an unjust war by most Europeans, Wolfowitz is considered a bady [bad guy], from that point of view," said Michael Emerson, senior research fellow of the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels.

He also argues that Mr. Wolfowitz is not without qualifications, and the nomination has a precedent.

"He was really quite an impressive international relations professor before getting into the Defense Department and that he is a very vigorous, sharp, intellectual," he said. "And he could well be a very forceful and dynamic president. By the way, Bob MacNamara, you may remember, went from being secretary of defense to boss of the World Bank. And did rather impressively."

Mr. MacNamara was controversial in his time, because of his role in the Vietnam War.

A European Union summit starting Tuesday will discuss the nomination of Mr. Wolfowitz. Diplomats say Europe is unlikely to block the choice at a time when it is trying to overcome differences with the Bush administration left by the Iraq war.

In addition, Brussels says Mr. Wolfowitz has accepted an invitation to meet with EU commissioner Louis Michel to discuss development and the fight against poverty, the bank's key missions.