WASHINGTON – A plan to wipe out $40 billion worth of debt for poor countries could be in place by the end of the month, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said Friday.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Wolfowitz was hopeful 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.
“Cautiously optimistic would be a good phrase,” Wolfowitz said. “I hope that we can sustain the momentum.”
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 developed countries to keep those commitments. We need to hold their feet to the fire,” he said in a wide-ranging interview.
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 on June 1. 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.
Protesters are hoping to mount the largest demonstration yet against the Iraq war in Washington on Sept. 24 – the day the IMF and the World Bank meetings begin. Cindy Sheehan, whose 24-year old son was killed last year in Iraq, will conclude a 25-state bus tour in Washington that day.
Wolfowitz said he didn’t believe the demonstrations – which will include protests against IMF and World Bank policies – would disrupt the meetings.
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