WASHINGTON, April 10 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank as a leading development finance institution should attach more importance to its role as an integrating force and engage itself broadly beyond the poorest countries, said its former head here on Wednesday.
Robert Zoellick, former World Bank president, told the audience at a public event that the bank, normally regarded as a global lending institution, should function primarily as one organization "taking not only knowledge but combining it with experience on the ground."
Zoellick noted that in order to help the war-torn states like Iraq and Afghanistan or struggling Central American countries, one should be clear that those fragile countries are facing "more than a challenge of pure economic development."
"There is this combination of stability, security, governance and economics," said the 65-year-old at the event held by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington-based think tank.
Therefore, the bank should "take its expertise in combining issues of security, dealing with crime, governance and development."
Meanwhile, Zoellick, who led the bank from 2007-2012, also suggested the international multi-lateral group take a more robust role in engaging with the middle-income countries instead of merely focusing on the poorest ones.
The World Bank needs to figure out "how to engage the middle-income countries to be beneficiaries as well as contributors," the former head said.
Zoellick, during his speech, also called on the bank to play a bigger role in meeting global challenges including gender issues, corruption, climate change and natural disaster, among others.
Wednesday's event came as the finance ministers and central bankers worldwide gather in Washington this week for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
It also came one day after David Malpass took office as the new World Bank president.
"There is going to have a huge set of opportunities there for David Malpass," Zoellick said.