By MARTIN CRUTSINGER
A number of nations have expressed a willingness to help boost international economic support for Iraq, the Bush administration said Monday.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt, President Bush’s special envoy on the issue, said he was optimistic the necessary work will be completed in coming months so that an international conference to collect pledges of financial support can be held by the end of the November.
He said France and Germany, two countries that opposed the U.S.-led Iraq war, are participating in meetings chaired by the government of Iraq and the United Nations over development of an International Compact for Iraq.
Under the compact, Iraq will pledge to undertake a number of economic reforms and estimates will be developed of how much financial support Iraq will need through 2012 to rebuild its economy.
That estimate will include money that Iraq can be expected to raise, primarily through oil exports, with any deficit made up by international donors. Kimmitt said it was too soon to say how much money will be needed but that the goal was to develop a financing plan by October.
The compact was set up in June at the request of Iraq’s new prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. Both he and Bush have called for greater international efforts to rebuild Iraq’s economy, seen as key to combating political instability in the country.
Countries participating in the working group include the United States, Britain, the 25-nation European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Kimmitt said, "Countries understand the need to play a constructive role."
He said the compact would be discussed at the September meeting of the United Nations in New York and at annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, in Singapore in September.
A donor’s conference for Iraq held in Madrid in 2003 raised an initial $13.5 billion but so far only $3.5 billion to $4 billion of that amount has been disbursed, Kimmitt said. He said he is seeking commitments in his discussions with other countries on when the rest of the money will be forthcoming.
Kimmitt said Iraq has been meeting the economic reform requirements of a preliminary IMF loan program in spite of continued insurgent attacks.
"This is a country that has faced a difficult security situation for some time, and they are living up to their obligations," Kimmitt told a small group of reporters.
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