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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 01:03 GMT 02:03 UK
Iraq donors' conference planned
By Greg Barrow
BBC correspondent at the United Nations

Unemployed Iraqis in Baghdad
The conference focused on rebuilding Iraq

United Nations aid agencies, the occupying powers in Iraq and Iraqi civil servants have announced plans for an international donors' conference this autumn to lay out a blueprint for reconstruction and recovery in Iraq.

The announcement came after a two-day conference at the UN headquarters in New York attended by representatives of more than 50 member states.

Delegates gave a positive assessment of the meeting, which provided them with an opportunity to meet Iraqi civilians who are now working with the occupying powers, or Coalition Provisional Authority, the name they have assumed.

The gathering was partly an international public relations exercise - a chance for the occupying powers to introduce some of the senior Iraqi civil servants they have hand-picked to act as a focal point for donor nations and UN aid agencies.

In that respect, it seems to have gone reasonably well.

'Meeting of minds'

One senior UN official described it as an extraordinary meeting of minds.

But beyond the feel good factor, everyone here is aware of the scale of the challenges ahead, not least those who made up the small Iraqi delegation of 12 civil servants.

Nasreem Sideek Barwari, a regional minister for reconstruction and development from the Kurdish areas of Iraq, was among them.

"They were a positive, forward-looking two days. We will go back with great hopes that we will tell our people, our communities.

"But also that's a commitment for the future so definitely we are looking forward to see the next step, the following step, and being heavily engaged in the process of planning for the rebuilding of our country," he said.

And that next step will be an international donors' meeting this October.

Despite Iraq's vast potential oil wealth, those involved in this process believe that more money will be needed from donor nations.

A better idea of the cost may be clear by then as the UN development programme and the World Bank will carry out assessments of the funds required to reconstruct Iraq's shattered infrastructure and economy.

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