Malaysia declines US invitation to Iraq Donor Conference
Malaysia will not be sending a delegation to the Madrid Donor Conference for Iraq, set for later this week. Heads of state turned down the US invitation to the conference yesterday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Madrid Conference on October 23-24, 2003, will seek funding from the donor community to address priority reconstruction and rehabilitation needs in Iraq, focusing on both urgent and medium-term needs for supporting sustainable development.
The news of Malaysia’s absence at the upcoming conference was conveyed to US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the Summit.
According to Malaysia’s foreign minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, the country is not in a financial position to fund the reconstruction effort in Iraq, reported the Star. “We will continue with what we have been doing, namely by involvement with our non-government organizations for humanitarian assistance.”
Iraq needs some $36 billion for reconstruction for the years 2004 to 2007, according to the findings of by the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) and the World Bank Group with assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Malaysia was subject to US criticism at the APEC Summit over the allegedly anti-Semitic remarks in Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s opening speech at the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) meetings last week. The leader sparked controversy when he said that "Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them."
US President George Bush personally denounced Mahathir’s comments and pulled him aside at the Summit to say the remarks were "wrong and divisive," a White House spokesman said. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)