Iraq

Iraq needs 1 billion dollars by end of 2005

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Dead Sea, Jordan (dpa) - Iraq is in dire need of 1 billion dollars by the end of 2005, Public Affairs Minister Nesrin Berwari said in Jordan at the end of a two-day meeting of representatives from more than 40 donor countries and 20 international organizations.

"Iraq is in need now of 1 billion dollars over the next six months to tackle urgent sectors such as electricity, water and health," she said.

Meanwhile the head of the Iraqi delegation, Planning Minister Barham Saleh, warned that the slow-paced allocation of funds was aggravating the situation.

"This catastrophic situation could spill out to destabilize the whole region and beyond," he said.

The Iraqi portfolio must receive urgent international aide and should go "beyond being a U.S. enterprise".

Berwari said the expected funds did not exceed 5 per cent of pledges made by donor countries at the Madrid conference in October 2003.

The World Bank and the Jeddah-based Islamic Bank for Development offered 500 million each in soft loans. The United States pledged a 312 million-dollar grant for security logistics in Iraq.

The U.S. has deployed an estimated 140,000 troops in Iraq since it toppled former president Saddam Hussein's regime. Iraqi officials said that one third of the incoming aid goes on security operations, thus depriving the 26 million population of badly needed development funds.

Japan stressed its earlier pledge of 3.5 billion dollars in soft loans in addition to a 1.5 million-dollar grant, according to Berwari and Central Bank governor Claudine Tamimi. dpa sgh pb sr

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