Zoellick: no effect on WB if Venezuela withdraws

By Xinhua

Mexico City : Robert Zoellick, U.S. President George W. Bush's choice to head the World Bank, said in Mexico Saturday that the international financial institution will still keep its influence if Venezuela withdraws.

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    Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has said that Venezuela is thinking about withdrawing from the World Bank, which he says is a tool of the United States that keeps poor nations in debt.

    "If a country feels it doesn't need or want the services of the international financial institutions, that's their choice," Zoellick said at a news conference in Mexico city. "I've found no shortage of counties interested in trying to work with the World Bank."

    He said the current problem of the World Bank is what new services and products can be developed for the different circumstances, but not the ones Chavez raises.

    Some emerging countries, such as Mexico, do not now need World Bank loans, but they still benefit from the institution's knowledge and expertise, he added.

    He said the World Bank would focus on war-torn countries like Sudan, Haiti and Afghanistan after he takes office.

    Bush, whose country traditionally chooses the head of the World Bank, announced in late May that he had chosen Zoellick, a former U.S. trade chief and deputy secretary of state, to succeed bank president Paul Wolfowitz, who was forced to resign in a favoritism scandal.

    As the only nominee to the position, Zoellick has already met individually with bank board members and on June 4 began a world tour. In Latin America, he also met officials from Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Costa Rica.

    Zoellick told reporters in Mexico that talks with members and World Bank staff will help make up the damage brought by the Wolfowitz scandal.

    Zoellick is expected to be confirmed by the World Bank executive later this month.