Iraq PM seeks neighbours' support

Claiming country has "entered new phase", al-Maliki urges security and financial help.

    Manouchehr Mottaki, right, is representing Iran at the Kuwait conference of mainly Sunni Arab states [AFP]

    "The bill of debt and compensation Iraq is paying is causing heavy damage to our infrastructure and national economy," al-Maliki told the opening session.
    "We are still waiting for implementing pledges and commitments made to waive loans and compensation."
    Empty promises
    Iraq's Arab neighbours have made similar pledges at two such meetings in the past year, with little follow-through.
    "Scrapping our debts and cancelling any financial compensation sends a positive message to the Iraqi people. It shows them a real desire to help overcome the crises they are living through, to speed up development projects, support security and stability and fund the public services sector," al-Maliki said.
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    "It is difficult for us to understand reasons for the delay in establishing diplomatic ties with Iraq, particularly after we got rid of the dictatorship. This is an initiative we have been waiting for for a long time and it has not happened yet."
    Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, who is attending the meeting, urged Arab countries to open their embassies in Baghdad.
    Rice also has urged them to back al-Maliki's security push.
    She also wants their influence to counter what the US sees as Iranian support for Shia militias in Iraq.
    Meanwhile, on the ground in Iraq, there was little sign of a let-up in violence.
    A suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at a police checkpoint in Ramadi in Anbar province, killing one person and injuring dozens others.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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