Ecuador president meets with World Bank delegation

President Alfredo Palacio met Friday with a World Bank delegation to discuss details of a US$536 million (Ђ440 million) credit pledged by the international lending body, the government said.

The money will be disbursed over the next three years to fund projects aimed at improving health care, community development and other social programs, the government said in a statement.

Palacio and Economy Minister Magdalena Barreiro met with the World Bank's regional director, Marcelo Giugale, as well as other World Bank officials.

Barreiro traveled to Washington last week to re-establish good relations with the World Bank, two months after her predecessor, Rafael Correa, sent a letter to the bank's president, Paul Wolfowitz, demanding an explanation why Ecuador had been turned down for a US$100 million (Ђ82 million) loan.

Correa described the World Bank's decision as "an affront to the nation." Correa quit days later, saying Palacio had asked for his resignation.

Ecuador's government has pursued more populist policies since the ouster last April of President Lucio Gutierrez, a fiscal conservative. He was replaced by Palacio, his elected vice president, who quickly boosted social spending and restructured an oil reserve fund that had been devoted to debt payments, AP reported.

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