From: Alejandro Valle Baeza (valle@SERVIDOR.UNAM.MX)
Date: Mon Mar 21 2005 - 14:08:45 EST
The Netherlands on Sunday hinted at reservations about Washington’s nomination Paul Wolfowitz t head the world bank, saying it would be better to have a wider field of candidates.
"It is always elegant to have more than one candidate," Gerrit Zalm, Dutch finance minister, said on the margins of Sunday's European finance ministers meeting. "We now have to judge if he is a capable man."
Mr Wolfowitz has been invited to Brussels to meet the European Commission and discuss his vision for the World Bank, but a date has not been decided.
The nomination of the US deputy secretary of defence shocked many Europeans who know him only as a leading campaigner for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and an advocate of using US military power unilaterally.
Diplomats say the Europeans are unlikely to oppose Mr Wolfowitz at a time when they are seeking to heal rifts with the administration of President George W. Bush.
"I think there's an informal understanding that the proposal will come from the Americans now and we can agree on that," Karl-Heinz Grasser, the Austrian finance minister, said.
Gordon Brown, the UK finance minister, is seeking a discussion between the US and developing countries over Mr Wolfowitz's nomination, believing it is important to achieve international consensus over the appointment. Mr Brown has no reason to think Mr Wolfowitz's appointment will be vetoed by the World Bank board. But he believes the US must engage in a consultative process with developing countries to ensure the appointment has wide approval.
UK government officials said the initial view in Downing Street, the Department for International Development and the Treasury was that Mr Wolfowitz has much to recommend him, not least that he would carry the authority of the White House and Congress.
But he is seen by some UK officials as an unknown quantity on international development. The UK government appears keen to discuss with him his views on poverty alleviation and his priorities for the future.
Treasury officials noted on Sunday that Mr Brown, as chairman of the International Monetary Fund, had sought to consult many developing countries last year when Rodrigo Rato was proposed as IMF managing director. They suggested it would be helpful to use a similarly inclusive process after Mr Wolfowitz's nomination by Mr Bush last week.
A British minister suggested the UK had far more reason to be concerned by the appointment of the hawkish John Bolton as the new US ambassador to the United Nations than by Mr Wolfowitz's nomination.
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