First meeting on future of Iraq set for April 15
The first in a series of regional meetings on the future of Iraq is scheduled to take place April 15 in the city of Nasiriyah, Iraq, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said. At the April 11 daily briefing at the State Department, Boucher described the meetings as "a forum for Iraqis to discuss their vision of the future and their ideas regarding the Iraqi interim authority."
Boucher said the hope is that they will culminate in a nationwide conference in Baghdad, although he declined to give a time frame for the larger session. As to who will be attending the meeting in Nasiriyah on April 15, Boucher mentioned "liberated Iraqis" from newly freed areas of the country, and members of the Iraqi opposition "including representatives from the Future of Iraq Project" who have been working with the US government.
On management of Iraq's oil resources. Boucher said the immediate focus is on humanitarian assistance, but that "at the appropriate time, the needs of the oil sector will be addressed." He added that for the moment, coalition forces have secured the oil fields in the south and north, preventing an environmental disaster.
As the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank get under way in Washington April 12-13, talk has begun about forgiving Iraq's foreign debts, and Boucher said the issue has arisen frequently in Secretary of State Colin Powell's discussions with foreign officials.
"It's been a long time since Iraq has been paying any of its debt. And there are international mechanisms for dealing with those situations that we would expect at the appropriate time the international community might use," he said. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)