Europe gives reluctant welcome to Wolfowitz

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The Independent Online

European ministers willlay aside private reservations and activists' protests to give their blessing to Paul Wolfowitz, the US neo-conservative who is expected to become president of the World Bank this week.

European ministers willlay aside private reservations and activists' protests to give their blessing to Paul Wolfowitz, the US neo-conservative who is expected to become president of the World Bank this week.

Mr Wolfowitz will meet EU development and finance ministers in Brussels today where he will face discreet pressure to install a European deputy.

But even EU officials, who were privately horrified when George Bush nominated his hawkish ally, have abandoned efforts to block the appointment. As deputy defence secretary, Mr Wolfowitz was best known as the architect of the US invasion of Iraq.

But by tradition, the US nominates the top job at the World Bank and Europe chooses the most senior post at the International Monetary Fund.

While European countries hold a combined 30 per cent voting stake on the board - enough to block the candidature - any prospect of that happening evaporated last week when the UK, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany made it clear that they would not oppose him.

As World Bank president, Mr Wolfowitz would have discretion over the choice of deputies appointed to be managing directors. The outgoing president, James Wolfensohn, has just one managing director, China's Shengman Zhang, but in the past 10 years, there have been as many as five.

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