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Iraq: Donors Conference Opens In Madrid

Madrid, Spain; 23 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Representatives of more than 60 countries are gathering today in Madrid, Spain, for a two-day conference to raise money to help Iraq rebuild after years of war and sanctions. Those attending are expected to include Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, who said late yesterday he planned to go to Madrid. He gave no details, however, of any aid Iran might be planning for Iraq.

Acknowledging the prospect of relatively low donations, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell have downplayed expections.

Powell said he expected significant contributions to be pledged at the meeting, but said the total amount would likely fall short of the nearly $56 billion that has been estimated will be needed to rebuild Iraq over the next four years.

The United States has already pledged $20 billion, while more than $3 billion has been pledged so far by countries including Japan, South Korea, Canada, Britain, and Spain.

France and Germany, which opposed the Iraq war, have said they have no plans to give any new money beyond a one-year contribution of $233 million pledged by the European Union.