Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Madrid fundraiser fails to get significant commitments for Iraq: "Despite new offers for broader participation in Iraq's reconstruction bonanza, the United States-convened donors' conference on Iraq ended in stifled disappointment, with only US$13 billion raised - a far cry from the $36 billion target. To dampen expectations further, up to two-thirds of the total pledges will take the form of loans, not grants. And if the Afghanistan fundraising experience is any indication, many of the pledges could still end up being just more broken multi-million-dollar promises.

"Most of the contributions came from those who were already expected to give anyway: Japan handed over $5 billion, Spain $300 million and Kuwait another $300 million. As expected, France and Russia gave nothing. Germany donated only $100 million, half of which was its share in the European Union's contribution. The Philippines pitched in a $1million it can hardly afford to give; Vietnam offered rice; while Sri Lanka promised tea. Arab nations, which the US was counting on to save the day, turned out to be the biggest spoilers.

"To underscore just how seriously they thought of the fund-raising event, many of the governments sent only low ranking bureaucrats; others just assigned their Madrid-based diplomats to drop by and say hello. 'Here we are and we've had a very successful conference,' US Secretary of State Colin Powell said at the end of the two-day event on Friday, tying to put on a brave front."

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