Japan, Saudi make Iraq reconstruction pledge

Japan has offered a total of $5 billion dollars in aid to Iraq for 2004-2007 to help with the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country, the Japanese foreign ministry said.

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (L) opened the meeting

    Oil-rich Saudi Arabia also joined the ranks of donors, offering $1 billion, of which $500 million dollars will be given through the Saudi Development Fund. The remainder 

    will be used to finance and guarantee exports to Iraq, the country said, without giving further details.

    The Japanese government, which had already pledged $1.5 billion in grants for 2004, made a further commitment of up to $3.5 billion

    , mostly in the form of low-interest official loans.

    The conference is being attended by representatives of 61 countries. Both the United Nations and the US have called on the international community to donate billions of dollars in aid to rebuild Iraq, after two US-led wars and an earlier crippling eight year conflict with neighbouring Iran.
    Delegates are set to hear presentations by core group members including presidents of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as ministers from the European Union, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.
    Iraq hopes to raise some $36 billion dollars for the coming four years, to which the interim US-led authority has added a further $20 billion.

    The US will place its contribution under the control of a separate development fund it set up in May.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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