President Bush says he wants former U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick to head the World Bank. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Zoellick would replace Paul Wolfowitz, who steps down next month following a scandal over a pay raise for his girlfriend.
President Bush says Ambassador Zoellick has all the right qualities to head the World Bank.
"He is a committed internationalist. He has earned the trust and support of leaders from every region of the world," said Mr. Bush. "He is deeply devoted to the mission of the World Bank. He wants to help struggling nations defeat poverty, to grow their economies, and offer their people the hope of a better life."
The 53-year-old lawyer is currently a top executive at the New York investment firm Goldman Sachs. As deputy secretary of state in 2005 and 2006, Zoellick focused on ending violence in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.
Speaking alongside President Bush after Wednesday's announcement, Zoellick said the World Bank has a vital mission to overcome poverty and despair through sustainable growth and opportunity.
"In recent years, some developing countries have achieved access to finance and have boosted growth to impressive levels," he said. "But too many lands, particularly in Africa, are denied opportunity because of disease, weak health care, and child mortality, hunger and poor agricultural infrastructure, lack of good schools, discrimination against girls and women, unsound governance and corruption, the want of property rights and the rule of law and endangered environment, and impediments to business, investment, economic liberty, entrepreneurs, trade, and a thriving free-market economy."
Zoellick was the U.S. trade representative from 2001 to 2005 and helped launch the Doha round of world trade talks. He worked on free trade agreements with Singapore, Chile, Australia, and Morocco and oversaw trade talks with five nations of Central America and the Dominican Republic, as well as Bahrain, Jordan, Vietnam, Panama, Thailand, and the Southern African Customs Union.
Zoellick follows outgoing Bank chief Wolfowitz who is being forced to step down next month, two years into his five-year term. Bank employees and many European contributors complained about Wolfowitz's management style and his role in securing a sizeable pay raise for his girlfriend.
Following the Wolfowitz scandal, executive directors of the Bank issued a statement saying the essential qualities of the next leader include a proven track record of leadership and political objectivity and independence.
Zoellick did not mention Wolfowitz by name but said the World Bank has passed through a difficult time for all involved. He said there are frustrations, anxieties and tensions about the past that may inhibit the future, but he vowed to put the discord behind. He said the Bank's best days are still to come.
The United States is the World Bank's largest donor, and the American president has chosen its chief since the 185-member group was founded following the Second World War. European nations, in turn, choose the head of the International Monetary Fund. Zoellick's nomination must now be approved by the World Bank's 24-member board of governors.