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Tue, May 06, 2003 - Page 12 News List

US sees role for EU rivals in rebuilding Iraq

OLIVE BRANCH The US' new advisor to Iraq's industry ministry said that France and Germany could have a role in rebuilding the country on the `coalition's terms'

AFP , BAGHDAD

The new US advisor to Iraq's industry ministry said Sunday he hoped that France and Germany, which led opposition to the war, will be allowed to take part in the rebuilding of Iraq.

But Tim Carney, a career diplomat tapped to advise what is one of Iraq's largest ministries, said the two longtime US allies would have to accept that the US-led coalition is calling the shots.

"If France or Germany recognizes the need to engage seriously in Iraq, and in the reconstruction and the building as part of this broad coalition effort, I would hope they will be welcomed," he said.

"But it's obviously going to be on the terms of the coalition," he told a press conference at which he introduced the US choice as interim head of the industry ministry, its former deputy minister, Ahmed al-Gailini.

Under the state-dominated economy of former president Saddam Hussein's regime, the ministry employed 100,000 people and oversaw 52 companies that produced everything from foodstuffs to textiles, pharmaceuticals, building materials and machinery.

The companies accounted for around 20 percent of Iraq's GDP of US$28 billion in 2001, the last year for which figures are available. Private ventures made up only 5 percent of the nation's GDP.

Oil is flowing, although well below pre-war levels, and Gailini said some foodstuffs and dairy companies had resumed production. But most state firms are lacking the electricity and gas to get back on line.

Gailini and Carney said the ministry's companies were not involved in any military programs, pointing out that another government body, the military industrialization directorate, was overseeing alleged weapons programs.

The two officials called for a lifting of the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990 to allow the industry to receive the raw material it needs. "The sanctions have a big effect," said Gailini.

Washington and London have been pressing for an end to the UN sanctions.

But Russia and France, two other permanent members of the UN Security Council, argue that such a move would only be appropriate when UN weapons inspectors verify that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction.

Moscow and Paris also fear that an end to sanctions would effectively hand control of Iraq's immense oil reserves, the second largest in the world after Saudi Arabia's, to the US.

Along with Russia, France and Germany led international opposition to the US-led war to topple Saddam.

A senior US official said Friday that Washington would not actively seek to get the war's opponents to take part in a multinational force to stabilize the country, which will be led by the US, Britain and Poland.

Carney said Poland could play a role in Iraq's rebuilding, which is being overseen by US interim administrator, retired US general Jay Garner, from the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA).

"One of things that ORHA is going to do is to look at a coalition partner, from an economy that has successfully effected the process of privatization, someone from Poland for example," he said.

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