Billions pledged for Iraq in Kuwait, but still short of goal

Billions pledged for Iraq in Kuwait, but still short of goal

During the International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq happening in Kuwait, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that rebuilding Iraq would be an enormous and challenging undertaking, but voiced optimism in Iraq's ability to recover and thrive thanks to its people and resources.

The biggest pledge at the gathering in Kuwait came from Turkey, which announced $5 billion in credit to Iraq, while Kuwait's ruling emir said his oil-rich nation will give $1 billion in loans and $1 billion in direct investments.

Saudi Arabia said it would allocate $1 billion for investment projects in Iraq and $500 million to support Iraqi exports.

Qatar, which is embroiled in a diplomatic crisis with a quartet of Arab nations led by Riyadh, pledged $1 billion.

Qatar pledged $1bn in loans and investments and the United Arab Emirates pledged $500m but added that there were $5.5bn in private sector investments in Iraq.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada is contributing another $12 million for reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Instead, the Trump administration will offer over $3 billion in loans, loan guarantees and insurance funds to American firms investing in Iraq.

The reconstruction conference was taking place two weeks before Kuwait celebrates its Liberation Day from Iraq, which invaded in 1990, leading to defeat by a US-led coalition and more than a decade of sanctions against Baghdad.

"Iraq's security and stability is part and parcel of the security and stability of Kuwait and the region", Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah told participants in the conference. Iraq also still owes Kuwait reparations from Saddam's 1990 invasion that sparked the 1991 USA -led Gulf War.

"The current crises and challenges facing the world require the worldwide community to collectively work together at all levels", he said. "Iraq can not commence the mission of rebuilding itself without support, which is why we are all here today from all around the world, to stand by Iraq's side". The generous sum still fell short of the $88 billion that were originally requested by the Iraqi government, but reached the target for "immediate assistance" sought by Bagdad.

With the help of a US-led alliance, Iraq declared victory over "Islamic State" insurgency in December 2017, after its forces successfully reclaimed all the territory held by the extremist group.

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