Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Robert B. Zoellick, former U.S. trade representative and deputy secretary of state, is among a small group of names that the international development community is suggesting to replace Paul Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank.

With Mr. Wolfowitz facing increasing pressure to step down amid revelations that he broke bank rules in arranging a pay package for his girlfriend, development specialists, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, listed a half-dozen names of replacements that they would recommend or they said had been suggested by others.

Mr. Zoellick, a managing director and vice chairman for international affairs at New York investment bank Goldman Sachs Group, also held positions during the administration of President Bush’s father, including that of undersecretary of state for economic and agricultural affairs and as counselor to the department.

Mr. Zoellick “would be a good candidate,” one specialist said. Another suggested that Mr. Zoellick has an advantage because, although he has been a Bush administration official, he has not been involved in the military end of U.S. foreign policy.

At the same time, another cited widespread international opposition to U.S. policies and said the “stink from the administration” could hurt Mr. Zoellick’s chances.

Also named was Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert M. Kimmitt, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany, undersecretary of state for political affairs and general counsel to the Treasury Department.

The White House last night refused to comment on the possibility of Mr. Kimmitt succeeding Mr. Wolfowitz.

Another American mentioned was Robert D. Hormats, also a Goldman Sachs managing director and former assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, deputy U.S. trade representative and senior deputy assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs.

Other potential successors include:

• Martin Feldstein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Reagan administration and now president of the National Bureau of Economic Research and professor of economics at Harvard University.

• Stanley Fischer, who served as the first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund from 1994 to 2001. He currently is the governor of the Bank of Israel. He also has been a senior official at Citigroup and vice president for development economics and chief economist at the World Bank.

• U.N. Development Program Administrator Kemal Dervis, a former Turkish minister for economic affairs and the treasury who has held various World Bank positions. His responsibilities included coordinating World Bank and international support to the peace and reconstruction process in Bosnia.

He has been World Bank vice president for the Middle East and North Africa Region and for poverty reduction and economic management. In that position, he was responsible for World Bank programs to fight poverty and for operational coordination with such institutions as the U.N. system, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization on international institutional and policy issues.

Mr. Dervis would be a “brilliant choice,” one observer said, because he is a progressive pro-American Muslim and “friend of the U.S.” who would like to see the U.S. exercise leadership responsibly.

In addition, the source said, his selection would allow the U.S. to avoid opposition to appointing an American while preserving the United States’ tradition of appointing the World Bank head. The European Union historically picks the head of the IMF, its sister organization.

Treasury spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin said last night that Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. thinks Mr. Wolfowitz deserves a fair process. Treasury historically nominates the World Bank chief.

“That includes sufficient time to review the ad hoc committee’s report and respond, as well as sufficient time for the ad hoc committee to consider his response to the report. Anything less than a fair process would reflect poorly on an institution as important and respected as the World Bank,” she said.

The committee, a special panel appointed by the World Bank board of directors, ruled in its report this week that Mr. Wolfowitz broke bank rules in securing the 2005 promotion and pay package for bank employee Shaha Riza.

The committee gave the report Sunday night to Mr. Wolfowitz, who has until today to review it and respond.

Mr. Wolfowitz’s attorney, Robert Bennett, said that it is “terribly unfair” that he won’t have more time to respond to the panel’s report. Mr. Bennett said Mr. Wolfowitz received more than 600 pages of materials to review on Sunday night.

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