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US hopes Iraq fund will attract donors
( 2003-10-21 10:31) (Agencies)

U.S. Bush administration officials hope a new World Bank trust fund will help attract donations toward Iraq reconstruction from countries wary of a U.S.-controlled fund.

With a donors conference due to begin Thursday in Madrid, President Bush has written letters to leaders in the Persian Gulf region, and he planned to call European leaders in coming days, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said.

An Iraqi policeman pushes back a group of children after they tried to push into a line of people waiting for water bottles being distributed by coalition forces in al-Faw, in southern Iraq Sunday Oct. 19, 2003.  [AP]
Bush was pressing Asian leaders while here for an economic conference, she said.

Rice envisions the new fund as an alternative funding mechanism well suited to small- and medium-sized donors with no independent way of administering reconstruction aid.

"This is another vehicle by which we can reconstruct the Iraqi economy," Rice told reporters here Monday.

The United Nations and the World Bank are finalizing plans for the new trust fund.

The Reconstruction and Development Fund Facility for Iraq is meant to answer the concerns of the European Union, Japan and other potential donors that pushed for an alternative to the Development Fund for Iraq, run by Iraq's American occupiers. Other potential donor nations want more say over how the money is spent.

None of the $20 billion in Iraq reconstruction money approved by Congress last week would be administered through the new fund, Rice said.

Rice expressed confidence that the United States will begin to attract more and more contributions to Iraq.

A U.N. resolution adopted Thursday urging all 191 U.N. members to contribute money and troops to Iraq "has given new impetus to this," Rice said.

The proposal for the new fund will be ready before the Madrid conference, and the fund would be operational by January, U.N. officials have said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the fund probably would have two arms, one administered by the World Bank, one by the United Nations. Both would be overseen by an international coordinating committee, he said.

"We will probably make some contribution to the trust fund, but most of our assistance will continue to be disbursed directly," Ereli said.

The United States made similar donations to a U.N. trust fund for Afghanistan, he said.

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