Bush Expected to Nominate Robert Zoellick as Next World Bank Chief

President Bush Wednesday is expected to nominate veteran U.S. diplomat and trade expert Robert Zoellick to succeed Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank. VOA's Barry Wood has more.

Bob Zoellick is a 53-year-old lawyer and former government official who is currently a top executive at Goldman Sachs, the respected New York securities firm. In 2005 and 2006 Zoellick was deputy secretary of state and for four years before that was the United States Trade Representative.

While serving as Condoleezza Rice's principal aide, Zoellick spent considerable time trying to bring peace to the Darfur region of Sudan. In this 2006 conversation Zoellick spoke about the difficulties in Darfur.

"Do I hope there will be a considerable decline in violence? Yes," he said. "Can I be certain? No. Will there be ups and downs and incidents? I expect sadly to say that there will be."

Zoellick has a law degree from Harvard. He served as an aide to James Baker at the U.S. Treasury and then at the State Department. In 1991 and 92 he was the (G7) economic summit planner of President George H.W. Bush. As trade representative he helped launch the now faltering Doha development round of multi-lateral talks in 2001.

Jeff Schott, a scholar at Washington's Peterson Institute of International Economics, says Zoellick would be a good choice to lead the 185-member nation World Bank.

"I think he certainly has the intellectual firepower and the vision and the experience to do so, yes," he said. "His previous experience as U.S. Trade Representative exposed him to the development problems of a number of countries. He traveled extensively in Asia, Africa and Latin America, met with heads of state, finance and trade ministers."

Paul Wolfowitz, an architect of the Iraq war while at the U.S. defense department, earlier this month was forced to resign as bank president only two years into his five year term. Wolfowitz's abrasive management style was unpopular with bank employees. He ran afoul of bank ethics guidelines in dealings with a female subordinate. Some experts call the Wolfowitz controversy the worst crisis in the bank's 60-year history.

The United States has always chosen the president of the Washington-based World Bank while a European has always led its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund. While many have pressed for the nomination process to be opened up in the wake of the Wolfowitz scandal, the Bush administration has been determined to hold to traditional practice.

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