Associated Press 9/9/2005
Wolfowitz Confident of Debt-Relief Deal
By JEANNINE AVERSA
WASHINGTON -- World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz on Friday conceded that hurdles remain toward implementing a plan to wipe out $40 billion worth of debt to poor countries. But he expressed confidence that a deal could be worked out before the end of the month.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Wolfowitz was cautiously optimistic that sticking points could be resolved when the world's biggest economic powers gather here on Sept. 23 for the Group of Seven meeting and the subsequent annual meetings that weekend of the 184-nation World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
In addition to debt relief, Wolfowitz said he was pushing for the world's rich countries to honor a commitment to double aid to Africa in the next 10 years.
"It is important for the developing countries to keep those commitments. We need to hold their feet to the fire," he said in a wide-ranging interview.
On June 1 Wolfowitz, the former No. 2 at the Defense Department and an architect of the Iraq war, began a five-year term as president of the World Bank. Its stated mission is to fight poverty and improve the living standards of people in developing countries, and it lends about $20 billion a year for various projects.
The annual World Bank and IMF meetings later this month will be his first as president.
The Group of Eight most industrialized countries reached an agreement in July to erase $40 billion in debt that 18 of the world's poorest countries -- 14 of them in Africa -- owe to international lending institutions, including the World Bank.
The Group of Seven countries are the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada. The Group of Eight includes those countries plus Russia.
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