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New World Bank President Lays Out Private Sector-Oriented Agenda

World Bank President Robert Zoellick, three months into the job, said Thursday his vision for the development lender is to partner with the private sector to promote growth in developing countries. VOA's Barry Wood has more.

Zoellick told reporters that the bank will engage the private sector in promoting growth. The bank, he said, will actively promote the development of capital markets in Africa and regional cooperation. It will work with private organizations to develop alternative, non-polluting sources of energy.

A highly regarded former US trade negotiator, diplomat and investment banker, Zoellick was brought to the bank in July to restore focus and staff morale. The 185-member nation bank's reputation had suffered during the tumultuous two-year leadership of Paul Wolfowitz, who in his previous job at the US defense department had been an architect of the American-led war in Iraq.

Zoellick said the World Bank has to change with the times.

"Many people think that our role is just the traditional World Bank from the 60s of project finance and others," said Robert Zoellick. "Our real role is helping create the markets, the intermediation, the institutions so that these things go on long beyond us."

Zoelllick's initial performance has won high marks from the bank's over 8,000 employees, most of which are based in Washington. Since arriving, Zoellick has traveled extensively in developing countries while also winning rich country backing for fresh contributions to the bank's facility for the poorest countries, IDA, the International Development Association.

"I was pleased that within the first 100 days [on the job] we more than doubled the funding to IDA," he said. "So that's one goal that has been accomplished. We've cut the loan [interest] rates. And I hope by the end of the year I hope we'll have our IDA contributions."

On Sunday Zoellick will participate in his first meeting of the development committee, comprised of ministers from industrial and developing countries. The committee is the bank's policy-making body.