Subject: AFP: E Timor welcomes Wolfowitz appointment to World Bank presidency

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


East Timor welcomes Wolfowitz appointment to World Bank presidency

LISBON - East Timor, one of the world's poorest nations, on Wednesday praised the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank, saying it would be beneficial for developing nations.

"Those who have suspicions and reservations should not have them because Wolfowitz is very humane and sensitive," East Timor's Nobel Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel peace laureate, told Portuguese news agency Lusa.

"He if going to be an effective fighter for foreign debt forgiveness of less developed nations. I am very satisfied," he added.

Ramos-Horta said he had met with Wolfowitz several times when the current US deputy defense secretary was Washington's envoy to Indonesia between 1986 and 1989, a time when East Timor was still under occupation by Jakarta.

The 24-member board of the Washington-based World Bank unanimously approved Paul Wolfowitz, 61, as its new president on March 31 despite misgivings by some member countries over his role as the architect of the invasion of Iraq.

He will overlap with current bank president James Wolfensohn, 71, before taking the reins on June 1 of the World Bank, biggest funder of development projects in the poorest nations.

Strongly Roman Catholic East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia, the predominantly Muslim neighbour of which it was part of for 23 years, in a UN-backed referendum held in August 1999.

The former Portuguese colony finally achieved full independence in May 2002 but it continues to be highly reliant on foreign aid.

Ramos-Horta was awarded the Nobel in 1996 jointly with Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo for their non-violent resistance to Indonesia's occupation.

04/06/2005 15:00 GMT

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