World Bank head urges int'l help for poorer countries

World Bank President Robert Zoellick on Friday urged international finance officials to make the plight of developing countries a priority as finance officials meet here to hammer out a plan to deal with the global downturn. Much of the focus ahead of the gathering of the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers has been on divisions between Europe and the United States over whether to spend or regulate the way out of recession - obscuring the fact that poor countries have been disproportionately affected. "Poor countries are blameless, but they're the ones that will be suffering more," Zoellick told reporters ahead of the gathering. "Millions will be falling into poverty and we estimate that with the gross slowdown 200,00-400,000 more babies will die each year." Zoellick, a former top US State Department official who has forecast the world economy will shrink by 1-2 percent this year, said that 2009 "is shaping up to be a very dangerous year" and called for immediate action from developed nations within the G-20.