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Robert Zoellick, a Goldman Sachs executive who has built contacts around the globe as President Bush’s trade chief and as the country’s No. 2 diplomat, is the White House’s choice to be the next World Bank president. AP reported that Bush was to announce the decision Wednesday, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of Bush’s announcement. Bush’s selection of Zoellick must be approved by the World Bank’s 24-member board.
Zoellick, 53, would succeed Paul Wolfowitz, who is stepping down June 30 after findings by a special bank panel that he broke bank rules when he arranged a hefty compensation package in 2005 for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, a bank employee. The controversy led to calls for Wolfowitz to resign from the poverty-fighting institution.
A seasoned veteran of politics both inside the Beltway and on the international stage, Zoellick is known for pulling facts and figures off the top of his head. He also has a reputation for being a demanding boss. Zoellick announced last June that he was leaving his post as deputy secretary of state to join the Wall Street firm of Goldman Sachs and work to develop investment markets around the world.
Zoellick could build upon strong relations he has developed worldwide as deputy secretary and U.S. Trade Representative. He was involved in peace talks in Sudan and as USTR he played a key role in negotiations to bring China into the World Trade Organization. He forged free trade deals between the United States and other countries, including Singapore, Chile, Australia and Morocco.