Gulf & Middle East
Iraqi PM calls on donor countries to write off debt
May 3, 2007 - 5:36:14 PM

Cairo, May 3 - Iraq's prime minister called on donor states to write off the Iraqi government's debts accumulated during Saddam Hussein's rule.

'We are calling on all our friends participating in the conference to write off Iraq's debts,' Nuri al-Maliki said at the opening of an international conference on Iraq in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

He said it will make it possible for Iraq to start implementing large-scale construction projects and plans to restore the country's infrastructure.

Al-Maliki thanked the countries that had already written off his country's debt. 'Our nation will not forget their kindness,' he said.

The media have estimated Iraq's foreign debt under Saddam Hussein at about $140 billion. The sum was borrowed in 1980-1988, mainly for the war against Iran.

The Iraqi finance minister said 52 states had already agreed to write off Iraq's debts to them partly or in full. The main part of the debt falls on Gulf countries.

The conference on Iraq opened in Sharm el-Sheikh Thursday, and its participants said they intend to adopt an agreement on assistance to Iraq.

The document is a detailed action plan for the Iraqi government for the coming five years, aimed at building a united democratic state with a powerful economy and stable security situation.

In particular, the agreement specifies donor countries' commitments to render assistance to Iraq in exchange for political and economic reforms carried out by Baghdad and improving security.

Delegations from 60 countries, most of them represented at foreign ministerial level, are participating.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hisham al-Naqib said earlier that the deal, drafted by the Iraqi government, the United Nations and the World Bank, is expected to offer Iraq international assistance in return for economic, political and security reforms, such as making material progress on security within five years.

'The initiative is aimed at establishing a partnership between the Iraqi government and the international community,' al-Naqib said.

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