President of World Bank Visits Ireland
Mr. Jim Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, today paid a one day visit to Ireland. This was Mr. Wolfensohn's first visit to Ireland since he became Bank President in 1995.
During his visit, Mr. Wolfensohn held discussions with the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern T.D, and Tom Kitt T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs. He praised the Government's commitment to achieve the UN ODA target of 0.7% of GNP by 2007.
A principal subject of discussion was Ireland's development cooperation programme and ways in which cooperation with the World Bank can be strengthened. There was a particular focus on the current situation in Africa, where Ireland Aid operates a bilateral programme in six priority countries. The discussions addressed the plight of sub-Saharan countries which are devastated by HIV/AIDS, crippled by unsustainable debt burdens and faced with severe food crises. The Minister of State briefed Mr. Wolfensohn on his recent visits to Ethiopia and southern Africa.
Appreciation was expressed for the important role played by Mr. Wolfensohn in re-shaping the agenda of the World Bank towards development concerns and generating a strong focus on poverty reduction in the poorest countries of the world.
Speaking later, the Minister of State commented that, “Jim Wolfensohn's visit to Ireland is a recognition of Ireland's increasingly important role as a donor of development assistance. Since I became Minister of State responsible for development cooperation, I have worked hard to develop Ireland Aid's relationship with the World Bank.
One of the issues we discussed today was the wider international trade agenda and the importance for developing countries of a successful outcome to the current Doha Development Round of global trade negotiations. We also considered closer cooperation between Ireland Aid and the World Bank in areas such as HIV/AIDS and the link between Information and Communications Technologies and development.”
During his visit, Mr. Wolfensohn also addressed the Institute for European Affairs on the theme of “The Road Ahead: The Development Agenda towards the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.”