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Chirac, Baker agree Iraq debtcuts by Paris Club from 2004

PARIS, Dec 16 (AFP) – The United States and France agree that the Paris Club of creditor nations should from next year find a way to alleviate Iraq’s crushing debt, US envoy James Baker said after discussions here Tuesday with President Jacques Chirac.

“I think that we all agreed that it is important to reduce this debt within the Paris Club if at all possible in the year 2004 and I think that we basically have agreement on the parameters of that stake,” Baker told journalists.

Chirac’s spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna, added that France and the United States were “in agreement on finding ways to reduce the Iraqi debt in 2004 in line with the appropriate Paris Club mechanisms.”

“We are also in agreement on the importance of working together for the reconstruction of Iraq,” she said.

Baker, a former US secretary of state and a close friend of the family of President George W. Bush, arrived in Paris on Tuesday on the first leg of a mission to urge countries to alleviate Iraqi debt. His trip will also take him to Germany, Russia, Italy and Britain.

France and Russia on Monday declared they were ready to look at forgiving or restructuring part of Iraq’s debt, which is estimated at USD 120 billion.

 © AFP

                                                                Subject: France news