Wolfowitz, currently the US deputy defence secretary, is to outline his plans as chief of the World Bank in talks with Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who currently holds the EU presidency, and other officials.

 

The talks, at EU headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, are also to include World Bank governors and some EU finance or development ministers.

 

Officials said that before meeting Wolfowitz, Juncker met officials from the Netherlands, Britain, France, Germany and Sweden - major donors of development aid.

 

"We have to make sure that Europeans will be represented in a better way on the managing board" of the World Bank, Juncker said before meeting Wolfowitz. He did not elaborate.

 

Controversial choice

 

US President George Bush nominated Wolfowitz two weeks ago - a controversial choice to lead the 184-nation bank as he is seen as an architect of the US-led war in Iraq and a hawk in the Bush administration.

 

He also has little experience in international development.

 

The nomination has generated little enthusiasm in European capitals, although EU governments have rallied behind Wolfowitz. Germany, Britain and Italy already have backed him publicly.

 

The EU could make backing Wolfowitz conditional on his having a European deputy, possibly Jean-Pierre Jouyet, chairman of the Paris Club of creditor nations.

 

The bank's 24-member board meets on Thursday to vote on Wolfowitz's nomination.

 

The United States, as the bank's largest shareholder, traditionally puts forward a candidate to lead the bank, which the board usually accepts.