The World Bank has not been invited to take part in the reconstruction of Iraq, as the US prepares to install its own post-war administration in the country.
Reconstruction will cost billions
The Bank is one of the world's leading financiers of development for the world's poorest countries, but needs UN authorisation to act.
The White House has ruled out a UN-led administration for post-war Iraq.
"I can say very simply that no-one has talked to us about our role," Bank president James Wolfensohn said.
"If we get an authorization to do it, we will do it," he said.
The Bank has been deeply involved in other post-conflict countries like Afghanistan and states of the former-Yugoslavia.
The Bank cannot act unless there is an administration in place in Iraq that is recognised by the UN.
"It would require a Security Council resolution or some
appropriate resolution, otherwise, it is a post-war situation without a recognized government," Mr Wolfensohn said.
He added he could not understand how reconstruction costs could be estimated while bombing continues.
The issue will be discussed at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund's (IMF) annual meetings this weekend.
But reconstruction is not on the official agenda of the influential development committee, which meets in Washington on 13 April.
The World Bank has not been active in Iraq since 1973.
Last week, US national security adviser Condoleeza Rice said that the coalition forces would decide the country's leadership structure.
Jay Garner, a former US general and president of weapons maker SY Coleman, will head the civilian arm of the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.
Mr Wolfensohn said there had been no discussions with the White House and reconstruction had not been mentioned in his only meeting with US Treasury secretary John Snow.
European Union countries, including Britain. will use the annual meetings of the World Bank to try and secure a role for the lender.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair is meeting with US President George W Bush in Belfast to discuss the UN's role in Iraq.
The 15-nation EU was split over the war, with Britain committing a third of its armed forces while Germany and France led international opposition to the conflict.