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UN political adviser to hold talks in Saudi Arabia on aid to Iraq

UN political adviser to hold talks in Saudi Arabia on aid to Iraq

Ibrahim Gambari
Just back from the official launch of the International Compact on Iraq, a five-year plan for peace and development, the top United Nations envoy on the issue today said he will travel to Riyadh to discuss aid to the war-torn country with Saudi officials.

“There are all kinds of negotiations going on, particularly between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Kuwait and Iraq, Bulgaria and Iraq in terms of the details of their commitments,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser for the International Compact with Iraq and Other Political Issues, Ibrahim Gambari, briefing reporters in New York on last week’s launch in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

At that meeting, the Compact was endorsed by 70 countries, with $30 billion in specific financial commitments announced. The plan obliges the Baghdad Government to work to meet basic needs, protect the rights of all citizens and ensure the optimal use of the country’s resources for the common good.

National reconciliation, improved security, better governance and continued economic and social reforms are expected to help unlock Iraq’s own development potential. International partners, in turn, pledge to provide financial, technical and political support to help meet these challenges on the basis of mutual commitments.

Responding to press questions on the participation of countries in the region, Mr. Gambari said, “The Saudis have a sense of what is owed. The Iraqis have a slightly different sense of how much is owed. Then there is official debt and debt owed to private people and they are trying to sort all of that out.”

Saudi Arabia has invited Mr. Gambari and Sinan Mohammed Rida Al-Shabibi, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, “to see how we can promote the reconciliation of some of these issues where there are differences of opinion between Iraq and the Saudis,” the envoy said.

Co-chairing the official launch last Thursday, Mr. Ban pledged the world body’s full support for the five-year plan. “The United Nations stands ready to assist the Government of Iraq in the implementation of the Compact,” he said.

“We cannot leave Iraq on its own to meet the enormous challenges that it faces. The international community as whole, and in particular Iraq’s neighbours and regional countries, must work together to help Iraq build a peaceful, unified and prosperous country.”