U.S. estimates of Iraq war rise as high as 95 billion dollars

Washington (dpa) - The U.S. government's estimates of what a war in Iraq would cost have risen substantially, news reports said Wednesday.
A war and its immediate aftermath alone could cost 60 billion to 95 billion dollars, The Washington Post said, citing officials in Congress and President George W. Bush's administration.

But added to that figure would be the huge costs of a postwar occupation, reconstruction and relief for an estimated 2 million refugees.

That amount far exceeds the previous estimates by officials in President George W. Bush's administration. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last month that the cost would be under 50 billion dollars while Bush aides have said it would come in about the same as the 1991 Gulf War, which cost 61 billion dollars, or 82.5 billion in today's dollars.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer would not confirm the figures, saying final estimates are incomplete and would depend on whether Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein retaliates against the invading forces and what international contributions would go to the post-war effort.

"It is too soon to be able to have any type of reliable number to indicate right now,'' Fleischer said.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the White House is preparing a request for an additional 60 billion to 95 billion dollars in funding for an Iraq war, its aftermath and the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign.

The United States is expected to cover most of the war costs, unlike the Gulf War, when allies pitched in the majority. But two dozen countries have pledged help ranging from soldiers and expertise to political support and humanitarian aid.

But there is one guarantee: A war would greatly increase the U.S. budget deficit.

dpa ls mm AP-NY-02-26-03 1612EST

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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 02/26/2003 16:12:32


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