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EU governments approve Wolfowitz

Published on 30/03/2005

30 March 2005

BRUSSELS – European leaders have cautiously endorsed the controversial candidate for new president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz.

The nomination of Wolfowitz, a hawkish neo-conservative and close ally of US President George W. Bush, initially sparked concerns among European politicians who were opposed to his role in the Iraq war.

At a Brussels meeting on Wednesday, Wolfowitz won support from leading European figures by stressing his commitment to multilateralism.

The deputy US defence secretary said he would make the fight against poverty his top goal as head of the Washington-based global lending institution.

“Helping people lift themselves out of poverty is truly a noble mission,” said Wolfowitz, who is expected to be confirmed in his new job on Thursday, replacing the outgoing James Wolfensohn.

“I understand that I am, to put it mildly, a controversial figure,” he said.

“But I hope that as people get to know me better they will understand that I really do believe in the mission of the [World] bank.”

Belgian Development Aid Minister, Armand de Decker told reporters “there are no objections from EU countries” after the two hour session with Wolfowitz.

He praised Wolfowitz as a “brilliant man” but cautioned that if he were to behave provocatively in the future, “we would be forced to react.”

Traditionally an American has led the World Bank, while a European has always been at the head of the International Monetary Fund.

In an effort to curb Washington’s influence on the World Bank, France pushed this time round for a European to be put in the institution’s influential number two spot.

France has nominated Jean-Pierre Jouyet, 51, for the position, but officials said the post was not discussed at today’s meeting.

Belgian EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel, who invited Wolfowitz to Brussels was on a tour of the Carribean and was not present at the meeting.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news