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New World Bank President Stresses Africa Development

World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, in his first press conference since taking office June 1st, Tuesday stressed the importance of boosting development assistance to Africa. Mr. Wolfowitz is scheduled to visit four sub-Saharan African nations later this month.

He will arrive in Africa Sunday after attending a London meeting of the finance ministers of the world's seven leading industrial countries. The finance ministers will be planning this year's summit of the world's most industrial countries (July 6-8), hosted by Britain, which will focus on African issues. Mr. Wolfowitz says this will be the first of many trips to Africa.

"I'll be visiting four countries-Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and South Africa. I think those countries reflect some of the diversity of sub-Saharan Africa but by no means all. I'm actually hoping to get back to Africa fairly frequently. There is a lot going on there. There is an enormous range of difference between countries," he said.

Mr. Wolfowitz, who for the past four years was the U.S. deputy secretary of defense, endorses British Prime Minister Tony Blair's call for a significant increase in development assistance for Africa. "I think development assistance is important. By itself it is not going to do the job. What is encouraging to me is that most of the other pieces (to the development process) are in place. And that makes the case for more development assistance, not less," he said.

The World Bank is a major player in African economies and is by far the biggest provider of development assistance to the continent.