Iraqi PM calls for debt waiver at global conference
Friday, 30 May 2008

AFP, STOCKHOLM - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Thursday appealed for his country's debts to be cancelled and the end of sanctions dating back to Saddam Hussein's regime, at a global conference in Sweden.

Speaking before delegations from around 100 governments and organisations, Maliki asked the international community "to end the international sanctions that were imposed on Iraq because of the previous regime and to write off debts."

These were an "impediment against reconstruction and development," he told the conference, the first follow-up meeting since a five-year peace and development plan was adopted last year.

Iraq is for instance still paying Kuwait damages following Hussein's 1990 invasion of the country amounting to tens of billions of dollars. Baghdad is required to place five percent of its oil revenues in a United Nations fund for paying the war reparations.

According to the Iraqi government, Iraq's total debt, excluding interest, is some 140 billion dollars, including 10 billion dollars owed to Saudi Arabia and a little less to Kuwait.

That figure rises sharply if the culminated interests are counted.

Much of the debt dates back to the country's war with Iran between 1980 and 1988.

In Stockholm, Maliki said Iraq needed "to get rid of this burden," but stressed that the country had made great progress toward creating long-term stability in all areas.

At the meeting in Egypt where the five-year International Compact with Iraq (ICI) was adopted last May, senior officials from more than 60 countries and organisations promised to cancel 30 billion dollars of Iraqi debt.

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