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Last Updated: Friday, 24 October, 2003, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Iraq aid pledges 'to reach $18bn'
An Iraqi sells fuel on the roadside in Baghdad
War and sanctions crippled the Iraqi economy
A summit of international donors has reportedly raised pledges for the reconstruction of Iraq totalling around $18bn, on top of $20bn promised by the United States.

The estimated total, in the form of grants and loans from countries and international agencies falls short of the estimated $56bn needed to rebuild the war-torn country.

But the two-day conference in Madrid has proved more generous than expected.

Japan became the biggest donor after the United States by pledging $3.5bn in low-interest loans, on top of $1.5bn in grants already announced.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait each pledged $1bn, while the US has already promised $20bn.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The US and Britain should pay for it all. Why should any of the countries who were against the war pick up the bill? We broke it and we should fix it
Janice Wheeler, US

The final total is due to be officially announced later on Friday.

Most of the funds being raised in Madrid are to go into a trust managed by the World Bank, the UN and a committee of Iraqis.

The new fund is designed to lure donors wary of US control, although some aid groups have reportedly questioned whether it will be able to make decisions on the ground.

The BBC's Katya Adler in Madrid says the mood has been more upbeat on the conference's final day, with the outcome less bleak than expected.

Our correspondent says the sums involved will be enough to kick-start Iraqi reconstruction, although they are unlikely to cover all the country's medium-term needs.

A guide to living conditions and the reconstruction effort in Iraq

The World Bank has said $36bn is needed for rebuilding Iraq, while the US-controlled Coalition Provisional Authority says nearly $20bn more will have to be spent on security and the oil sector.

On Thursday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged countries and international organisations to give generously.

Countries such as France, Germany and Russia, which opposed the US-led war with Iraq, have said they will not donate more than they have already pledged.

Huge task

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said it "may take time" to reach the goal set by the World Bank.

But Nick Kraft, the World Bank's Iraq country manager, was more optimistic.

"If you look at the commitments coming, there is plenty of money to kick-start this reconstruction process. If you compare them to anywhere else in the world, it's staggering," he told Reuters news agency.

Continuing violence and disputes over the running of Iraq have made some potential donors reluctant to commit themselves financially at this stage.

Pledges already made include:

  • $20bn from the United States
  • $5bn from Japan
  • $3bn-$5bn from the World Bank
  • $4.35bn over three years from International Monetary Fund
  • $1bn from Saudi Arabia
  • $1bn from Kuwait
  • $835m from Britain
  • $300m from Spain
  • $231m from the European Union
  • $200m from South Korea
  • $174m from Italy
  • $150m from Canada
  • $32.6m from Sweden
  • $5.9m from Belgium

Iraqi Governing Council representative Mowaffaq al-Rubaie told a press conference on the sidelines of the summit that Iraq needed an "immediate infusion of cash".

Iraqi woman and US soldier
Iraq is still wracked by instability

"The Iraqi people need finance, not promises," he said.

He said the task ahead of the Iraqis was "huge", pointing to the re-emergence of previously eradicated diseases such as bilharzia and malaria.

He also blamed unemployment in Iraq for "nurturing terrorism".

BBC News Online's world affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds says Iraqi debt is one big issue which is not on the formal agenda but which will certainly be on the delegates' minds.

Saddam Hussein ran up foreign debts of between $95bn and $150bn, according to figures compiled by Jubilee Iraq, a London-based network of Iraqi exiles and sympathisers who are calling for the debt to be written off.

The meeting comes days after the UN Security Council passed a US resolution calling for a multinational force and aid for Iraq from the world community.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Tristana Moore
"Donor countries want to make sure that they know where their money is going"



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