US overseer Paul Bremer and Iraqi officials were counting yesterday on the Madrid donors' conference to bring financial aid to help rebuild after decades of war and neglect under former president Saddam Hussein.
The conference, to be attended by a 100-strong delegation from Iraq, seeks US$36 billion dollars for the nation's ravaged infrastructure.
The funds are key to bringing long-term stability to a country where US forces come under daily fire from Saddam loyalists and now face a threat from Shiite fundamentalists.
"I think we're going to have a successful conference at Madrid. I think we'll find that a number of countries will make important contributions," Bremer said late on Tuesday, ahead of his departure for Spain.
"I think we'll find the international financial institutions will come forward, with pretty good contributions."
Although the World Bank and the UN estimate reconstruction needs through 2007 at US$36 billion dollars, opponents of the US-led war against Saddam, France, Germany and Russia, are shunning any large-scale contribution, dimming expectations for the conference.
The bulk of aid still looks to come to Iraq in the form of a US$20.3 billion US aid package.
But in defiance of a White House veto threat, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to seek conversion of half the package into a loan, following the example of the Senate last week.
Bremer issued a direct plea to France on Tuesday, urging Paris to come in from the cold.
"I think it would be a sad thing if the French government could not find a way to participate in the reconstruction," he said.
"I think it's time for them to get beyond all of these discussions that took place back in February and March. It's time for them to recognize that we're going to reconstruct Iraq.
"There is a role for France and other great countries to play here," he said.
While Iraq has the world's second largest oil reserves, estimated at 112 billion barrels, its basic infrastructure atrophied under dictatorship, 13 years of sanctions and the war.
Ahead of the conference, Governing Council member Samir Sumaidy said Iraq's public institutions badly needed funding if the transition to democracy was to succeed.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”