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Last Updated:  Saturday, 12 April, 2003, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Iraq future high on G7 agenda
Andrew Walker
BBC correspondent in Washington

The rebuilding of Iraq is expected to be one of the key issues discussed by finance ministers from the group of seven leading developed countries when they meet in Washington on Saturday.

Bomb damage
Getting Iraq back on its feet will be a major task
United States Treasury Secretary John Snow wants the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which also hold ministerial meetings this weekend, to start the project quickly.

The diplomatic tension in the run up to the war may well be reflected in the G7 finance ministers' meeting.

Mr Snow, who hosts the session, said the IMF and World Bank should start giving technical assistance to Iraq as soon as possible.

He also said the discussions should include Iraq's foreign debt. Both could be difficult issues.

Violate sanctions

The World Bank's president, James Wolfensohn, has said that the bank's position is complicated by United Nations' sanctions against Iraq.

He wants explicit approval from the bank's member countries before he gets involved.

Another bank official has said that even going to Baghdad and paying a hotel bill there could be construed as a violation of the sanctions.

As for debt, Iraq's biggest government creditors are Russia and France, both thought to be owed in the region of $8bn.

Mr Snow suggested that they should consider forgiving those loans.

Another US minister has described them as debts that were incurred to pay for weapons and presidential palaces.

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