The World Bank's policymaking committee has announced an ambitious plan to cancel 100-percent of the debt of 18 of the world's poorest countries, mostly in Africa.
In Washington on Sunday, the bank's president, Paul Wolfowitz, said the organization had fulfilled its obligation to billions of the world's poorest citizens.
The action by the World Bank followed Saturday's decision by the International Monetary Fund to back the plan, which was first presented by the Group of Eight industrialized countries in July.
Finance ministers and central bank chiefs at the meeting also expressed concern about steeply rising oil prices, saying they could slow economic growth throughout the world. They say the prices, which have doubled in 18 months, have hit the world's poor the hardest.