Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A World Bank incentive for Pyongyang?

Washington hard-liner Paul Wolfowitz, now head of the World Bank, has publicly stated that the World Bank could potentially play a role in North Korea's economy, though is not yet ready to do so.

Wolfowitz, in an enticement to Pyongyang, mentioned that the World Bank played "a very valuable role" in China when that country embarked on economic reform:
In principle, the same thing could happen with North Korea, but there's a lot that has to happen to get there.
Wolfowitz made clear what that "a lot" was to be. He said the World Bank's investor countries are likely to focus on progress in international efforts to persuade the country to abandon its nuclear programs, if they are to invest in the isolated North:
I imagine for the shareholders the resolution of the nuclear issue is probably at the heart of it. I think the other thing that's at the heart of it is whether North Korea ... were to make the kinds of decisions necessary for that kind of economic progress to take place.
Could this be a sign that Wolfowitz is willing to work with countries that are already opening the door to possibilities of increased aid, particularly South Korea? Seoul has said it is ready to provide massive amounts of aid, including electricity, if Pyongyang can reach an agreement on the nuclear program within the six-party framework.

Wolfowitz also told Japan's
Nihon Keizai newspaper that China could be a model for the reclusive Korean regime, although I wonder if that kind of thing really is an incentive for a group of people who are deathly afraid of what might happen if they don't maintain a tight grip. As I wrote in January:
To be honest, I'm not so sure Guangzhou is the place to bring someone whom you're trying to convince to begin major reforms. Frankly, the septuagenarians who replaced the octogenarians who used to rule China have mostly lost control of the place. Someone like Kim Jong-il and his cronies are not going to look at free-wheeling Guangzhou and go, "Yeah, let's try that."
Maybe Wolfowitz doesn't read my blog.

By the way, in Seoul, Wolfowitz had some nice things to say about South Korea, and we all know how much people like to hear praise in this once dirt-poor, war-torn land:
A country that was once a recipient of World Bank assistance, it's increasingly now playing a role as a donor and a model for a lot of other countries about how to do development the right way. It's an incredible success story here. There's a lot to be learned from it.
Wolfowitz told President Roh Moohyun at a meeting that he is pleased with South Korea's decision to expand aid to Africa and hopes the country will work with the World Bank.

Photo: At the Blue House, Wolfowitz and President Roh check out the executive mansion's two Chosŏn-era Barcaloungers. Wolfowitz complimented Roh on his new Elvis-style hairstyle, though it it seemed ready to collapse as the meeting dragged on.

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