Iraq Pledge Drive Falls Short

Delegates from around the world listen to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell during the second day of the international donors conference for the reconstruction of Iraq, Friday, Oct. 24, 2003 in Madrid, Spain AP

An international donors conference for Iraqi reconstruction ended Friday with pledges totaling "more than $33 billion," conference officials said.

The amount was to be officially announced by the World Bank, but a senior conference official said on condition of anonymity that "more than $33 billion" was raised at the two-day conference in Madrid.

The total apparently included the $20 billion already promised by the United States. A senior U.S. official said earlier that the United States had counted "in excess of $13 billion" in new pledges, which he called in line with expectations.

The conference seemed sure to fall short of the $56 billion the World Bank estimates Iraq needs over the next four years. The World Bank has said much of that amount will likely be covered by Iraq's oil revenues, private investment and other resources, rather than donations.

While big spenders such as Japan and Saudi Arabia pledged more than some expected, much of it was in the form of loans or credits for a nation already burdened with an estimated $120 billion in debt run up during Saddam Hussein's rule.

Meanwhile, two GIs were killed and four wounded in a mortar attack near the northern city of Samarra. Another soldier was killed north of Baghdad, 13 troops were wounded in Mosul, and other soldiers may have been hurt in Fallujah.

American forces killed two Iraqi attackers in Beiji, and rockets killed two Iraqis at a Baghdad marketplace.

In other developments:

  • Between 650,000 to 1 million tons of ammunition remain unaccounted for, scattered all over Iraq, said Brig. Gen. Robert L. Davis, who is overseeing the cleanup campaign.

  • American troops in helicopters swooped down on a remote sheepherding village in the desert and detained nearly all the men, one as old as 81, one as young as 13. A month after the raid, apparently aimed at preventing terrorists from slipping across the border from Saudi Arabia, only two of the 79 captives have been freed.

  • The Washington Post reports a Senate panel is preparing to report that intelligence agencies overstated the threat posed by Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. While there is disagreement on the intelligence committee over the direction of their probe, it currently focuses more on the CIA than the White House.

  • Federal agents have started questioning Bush administration officials in their probe who leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent married to a vocal critic of the Iraq war, The New York Times reports.

    The U.S. deaths bring to 108 the number of American soldiers killed by hostile fire since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1. Since the war started, 343 Americans have died.

    The 13 injured soldiers, from the 4th Infantry Division, were wounded Thursday night when a mortar round struck at hangar at Camp War Horse near Baqouba, about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, U.S. officials said.

    Three were seriously injured and evacuated but the others were treated at the local aid station, the command said. U.S. troops fired back and pursued the attackers, the command said, but there was no word on any insurgent casualties.

    In a separate incident, the 4th Infantry Division also said two Iraqis were killed after a patrol of its 2nd Brigade was attacked near Baqouba by rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire at 10 p.m. Thursday. The Americans pursued the attackers into a house and killed the pair, it said.

    In Baghdad, at least two Iraqis were killed and seven injured when rockets fell overnight in the Ad-Doura neighborhood of the capital, residents said.

    Witnesses also reported a roadside bomb injured several other troops Friday in Fallujah in the sixth attack by insurgents there in as many days.

    Security was a concern at the donors conference, where International Monetary Fund director Horst Koehler said the fund could lend Iraq as much as $4.25 billion over three years, but stressed Iraq needs economic stability and reforms to lure private investment.

    "All of us are here today to make a strategic investment in hope," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told delegates from 77 countries. "Now is the time for all of us to be generous with money, with training, with opportunity."

    In an interview with European newspapers published Friday, Powell said it would "not mean it's a disaster" if the two-day conference doesn't raise the entire $36 billion — on top of the U.S. pledge — the World Bank says Iraq needs over four years.

    After hearing accounts of Iraq's dire needs on Thursday, delegations were coming forward one by one on Friday — from Austria to Vietnam — and announce what if anything they will contribute to its reconstruction.

    Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi offered the biggest pledge after the United States': $1.5 billion in grants for 2004 and $3.5 billion in loans for 2005-2007.

    Saudi Arabia pledged $1 billion, but the richest country in the Arab world said half would be in loans through 2007 and the rest in export credits. However it gave the first hint that progress might be made on a U.S. push to relieve some of Iraq's estimated $125 billion debt.

    Kuwait, which was invaded by Iraq in what led to the 1991 Gulf War, offered $500 million in new money, on top of $1 billion already spent.

    Italy added $232 million over three years — in addition to the 3,000 troops it has stationed in Iraq. Belgium pledged $5.8 million.

    In all, the European Union is giving $812 million next year — less than the $931 million the 15-nation bloc offered to Afghanistan last year, reflecting the absence of France and Germany.

    South Korea has agreed to $200 million and Canada $230 million, most already spent. United Arab Emirates announced a pledge of $215 million but gave no timeframe.

    Poorer countries chipped in too, like Slovakia with $290,000. Bulgaria and Egypt offered technical assistance but no money.

    Iran, which fought Iraq from 1980-88 in a war that claimed 1 million lives, said it would let Iraq export oil through Iranian ports and supply its neighbor with electricity and gas.
    • Joel Roberts

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