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Treasury Secretary Discusses Wolfowitz, Chinese Economy

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson speaks with Jim Lehrer about World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz's troubles, the potential impact on the international body, and U.S.-China economic relations ahead of Paulson's meeting with Chinese officials next week.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Mr. Secretary, welcome.

  • HENRY PAULSON, U.S. Treasury Secretary:

    Jim, it's good to be here.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    It's now about 4:45 p.m. Eastern time. What's the situation right now on the Paul Wolfowitz thing?

  • HENRY PAULSON:

    Jim, let me begin by saying that the World Bank is a very important institution. It's important to the president. It's important to me. It's got a vitally important mission — reducing poverty around the world — that, as we speak, the board is in session.

    I think you know that we fought very hard to make sure that there's a fair process for Paul Wolfowitz. He's a dedicated public servant. He's worked very hard, had significant accomplishments at the bank. So the process had to be fair for him and for the bank. And, you know, we look forward to putting this behind us all and refocusing on the mission of the bank going forward.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Are you satisfied the process has been fair?

  • HENRY PAULSON:

    Let me say this: We've done everything we can to make sure the process is fair. And I don't think I should pre-judge the process. But it didn't seem right for the bank to rush to judgment. This, as I said, is a very important institution, and this is an institution that's made its share of mistakes.

    There's work that has to be done at the bank. And I think Paul has admitted that he's made mistakes, the bank has made some mistakes. But, again, we look forward to putting this all behind us and refocusing on the mission going forward.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    So everybody involved is essentially admitting mistakes were made. Paul Wolfowitz has made that concession, and so have others in the bank, as we speak. Is that correct?

  • HENRY PAULSON:

    That's correct.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And because of that, then, there can be a resolution of this?

  • HENRY PAULSON:

    Well, listen, I look forward to a resolution. This is a regrettable situation. It's, in many ways, a sad situation, because this is a very dedicated and committed and able public servant who's worked very, very hard on behalf of his country and on behalf of the World Bank, and to relieve poverty, and do all the things he's been doing around the world.

    But, again, the board is meeting. I'm looking forward. I'm looking to the time when we can refocus on this mission.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Yes, go ahead.

  • HENRY PAULSON:

    As I said, it's so important to Paul and to all of us.

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