President George W. Bush tapped his former trade chief and No. 2 diplomat, Robert Zoellick, on Wednesday to run the World Bank, embarking on a healing process to mend wounds inflicted by outgoing bank President Paul Wolfowitz.
Zoellick, 53, would succeed Wolfowitz, who is stepping down June 30 after findings by a special bank panel that he broke bank rules when he arranged a hefty compensation package in 2005 for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, a bank employee. Bush's selection of Zoellick must be approved by the World Bank's 24-member board.
The controversy over Wolfowitz caused a staff revolt and strained US relations with European and other countries and led calls for him to resign from the poverty-fighting institution.
"The World Bank has passed through a difficult time. For all involved there are frustrations, anxieties and tensions about the past that could inhibit the future," Zoellick said. "This is understandable but not without remedy." He said the bank needed to move past the discord, adding: "I believe the World Bank's best days are still to come."