- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2007

Robert B. Zoellick, President Bush’s nominee to replace Paul Wolfowitz as World Bank president, left last night on a two-week trip to help mend strained relationships with nations in Europe, Africa and Latin America.

Mr. Bush last week nominated the former U.S. trade representative to replace Mr. Wolfowitz, who resigned last month in the wake of revelations he broke bank rules by arranging a generous pay package for his girlfriend. Mr. Wolfowitz’s departure on June 30 will end a stormy two-year tenure, in which he campaigned to root out corruption from the bank’s dealings with developing nations.

Mr. Zoellick told reporters yesterday that he hoped “to listen and to learn” on this trip.

“I want to try, as quickly as I can, to reach out to both developing countries and developed countries and get their sense of priorities, issues in the broader development agenda, questions related to the World Bank, and get their input, and I hope, their support,” he said.

The United States traditionally names the World Bank’s head.

Although the institution’s executive directors have said they will accept nominations until June 15, no other nominations have been received. The directors expect to complete their selection process by the end of the month.

Mr. Zoellick, 53, has served as Mr. Bush’s trade representative and was the No. 2 official at the State Department before he left to take a Wall Street job with Goldman Sachs last year.

He said the first stop on his tour will be Ghana, followed by Ethiopia and South Africa.

Mr. Zoellick said he wanted to start in Africa, citing the importance of World Bank efforts there.

“Too many Africans, and others around the world, struggle with weak governance, corruption, inadequate schools and health programs, poor infrastructure, environmental problems and restraints on economic freedom and property rights that inhibit strong, sustainable growth,” he said.

“The World Bank can help,” he said.

Mr. Zoellick also plans to visit Europe — where he will meet with British, French, German, Norwegian and EU officials — as well as Mexico and Brazil.

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