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Iraq: France, Germany, U.S. Agree On Debt Relief

Paris, 16 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- France and Germany today endorsed Washington's calls for Iraqi debt relief after talks with former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker. A spokesman for German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Berlin, Paris, and Washington have all agreed on cutting Iraqi debt.

Baker said the two countries agreed that the specifics of the deal should be reached next year in the Paris club of creditor states. "We [United States and France] want to do what we can to reduce the oppressive debt burden on the Iraqi people so that they can enjoy freedom and prosperity and we would like to do that in the year 2004 and through the mechanism of the Paris Club," Baker said.

Baker was named by U.S. President George W. Bush as special envoy to discuss cutting Iraq's debts. Iraq owes an estimated $3 billion dollars to France and some $4.4 billion to Germany.

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Department spokeswoman Nicole Deaner today said that Washington has postponed a conference concerning Iraq reconstruction projects from 19 December to next month.