US welcomes Iraq's debt deal

17th December 2003, Comments 0 comments

17 December 2003 , WASHINGTON - The United States appreciates the commitment made by France and Germany on Tuesday to work for ways to reduce Iraq's foreign debt, the White House said. "We welcome the commitments that have been made," President George W. Bush's spokesman, Scott McClellan said. "We appreciate the commitment by France and Germany to work to restructure and reduce the debt burden on the Iraqi people." Germany and France announced they would work within the Club of Paris to find ways to restru

 17 December 2003

WASHINGTON - The United States appreciates the commitment made by France and Germany on Tuesday to work for ways to reduce Iraq's foreign debt, the White House said.

"We welcome the commitments that have been made," President George W. Bush's spokesman, Scott McClellan said. "We appreciate the commitment by France and Germany to work to restructure and reduce the debt burden on the Iraqi people."

Germany and France announced they would work within the Club of Paris to find ways to restructure Iraq's debt, which is estimated to be about USD 120 million, during a visit by former US secretary of state James Baker.

Bush appointed Baker special envoy and assigned him to persuade countries to help relieve the burden on a future Iraqi government. Baker met with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin on Tuesday.

Baker on Wednesday met Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during the Rome leg of his European tour aimed at persuading countries to reduce Iraq's foreign debt.

The former Secretary of State and Berlusconi held talks for nearly an hour. Neither side released any statement after the meeting.

In Italy, he was expected to have found a lending hand from Berlusconi, a staunch supporter of the US. In April, Italy agreed to send up to 3,000 troops to keep the peace and help rebuild Iraq.


Baker is scheduled to travel to Moscow and London later this week.

The agreement by France and Germany and the US response signalled a thaw in US relations with that two countries.

The relationship took a turn for the worse over Chirac's and Schroeder's opposition of the invasion of Iraq, and it appeared Baker's effort would be undermined after the Bush administration said last week German and French firms would be banned from bidding on US-funded contracts for Iraq's reconstruction.

Earlier Tuesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said the United States hoped Saddam Hussein's capture would persuade countries like France and Germany to assist the US-led effort to rebuild Iraq.

"I suspect that our French friends and German friends and others who have had differences of opinion with us now, following the capture of Saddam Hussein, see an opportunity to put things on a better plane," Armitage said in an interview with NBC.

"I think Mr. Baker is reaping the benefits of (Saddam's capture), and I hope it continues and trust that it will," Armitage said.

DPA
Subject: German news

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