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President Bush Picks Robert Zoellick to Head World Bank


President Bush has nominated former US trade representative Robert Zoellick to be the next president of the World Bank. He would replace Paul Wolfowitz, who’s resigning amid controversy over helping his girlfriend get a high paying job.

Zoellick was first considered for the bank post in 2005. He later accepted a job as deputy secretary of state and worked on the Darfur crisis. He then accepted a job with a private investment firm.

Sebastian Mallaby is with the non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations -- and a former correspondent with The Economist and the Washington Post. He spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about Robert Zoellick’s qualifications.

“Bob Zoellick is a good choice in many respects. He has a very quick strategic sense. He was the prime mover in the DOHA round of global trade talks, which as you remember, were focused on developing countries. And so in that process, he demonstrated extreme effectiveness in working with developing countries’ ministers of trade and also rich (countries’) foreign ministers of trade. And that’s the kind of political diplomatic skills you need to get the World Bank out of its current hole and reestablish its credibility worldwide,” he says.

Commenting on Zoellick’s work at the State Department, Mallaby discusses his efforts to solve the Darfur crisis. He says, “Darfur is almost an impossible problem to fix…. I think he did as good as anyone could do on that issue, frankly. He also when he was at the State Department did a good job on framing the big picture of US/China trade relations.”

As for any controversy surround the nomination, he says, “I think there’s a lot of people waiting to create controversy because for one reason for another they feel sore about the World Bank. There are people who are on the left who think that the World Bank is too dominated by the United States. They’re going to oppose anybody who’s put in there by the United States. There are people on the right who say that the World Bank is unnecessary because private capital markets can deliver money to developing countries these days.”

Asked why Zoellick was not chosen in 2005 instead of Wolfowitz, he says that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had requested Zoellick take the job as her strong right hand man.

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