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Iraq Urges Donors To Disburse $4 Billion

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.; 28 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Iraq issued an urgent appeal at a donors conference in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) today for donor countries to disburse $4 billion.

Iraq's interim minister of planning and development cooperation, Mehdi al-Hafidh, told delegates at the opening of the two-day conference in Abu Dhabi that the money is needed for 700 priority projects this year. He said Iraq's needs "are enormous and urgent" and that it is "high time" promises of aid made at a donors conference last October in Madrid are honored.

A World Bank official has said Iraq will likely receive only some $500 million of the $33 billion promised at the Madrid conference.

The conference has brought together delegates from some 40 countries and organizations -- including the United States, the European Union, and Japan, as well as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations.