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LEAD: Donors see need for more money for Iraq reconstruction.

TOKYO, Oct. 14 Kyodo


Donors for the reconstruction of Iraq agreed Thursday on the need to boost their funding so the country's parliamentary elections will be held in January as scheduled as they wrapped up a two-day conference in Tokyo, in which Iran formally took part.

''Additional priority projects could not be financed without additional funding,'' said a statement the donors released after the talks.

However, few participants made major pledges during the session of the Donor Committee of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq, according to announcements and comments made by key members.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, who led the Iraqi delegation to the conference, said in an interview he was ''reasonably satisfied,'' and that the results made him confident implementation of reconstruction measures financed by the fund will be speeded up.

The planned election will be a key political step for Iraq since sovereignty was handed over to Iraqis from the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority on June 28.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi promised to help Iraq hold the elections during a meeting with Salih on Thursday, a Japanese government official said. ''The conference proved a success,'' Koizumi was quoted as telling Salih.

Mahid al-Hafidh, Iraqi minister of planning and development cooperation, said in a press conference, ''We have reached a number of agreements about how to speed up the process of implementation.''

The Iraqi government plans to allocate a total of $30 billion on reconstruction measures from 2005 to 2007 and expects half of it to be financed by foreign donations, the minister said.

About $1 billion has been collected in the fund so far and already allocated for concrete measures aimed at helping Iraqis rebuild their country, said Joe Saba who serves as country director for Iraq at the World Bank.

The donors ''reiterated their support for the development strategy,'' the statement said.

Iran formally joined the committee as the 15th full member with its commitment to contribute $10 million, the statement said.

Bernhard Zepter, head of the delegation of the European Commission, offered 30 million euros to support Iraq's parliamentary elections at the conference, delegation officials said.

Denmark and New Zealand each committed to contributing less than

$10 million.

Akio Shirota, the Japanese ambassador in charge of the reconstruction who chaired the meeting, said at the press conference that the donors reaffirmed their commitment to make efforts so that Iraq can hold its elections ''nationwide and on schedule.''

Japan on Wednesday offered $40 million to help Iraq hold the elections successfully, although it was not a new pledge as the money will come from the $490 million Japan has contributed to the IRFFI.

The donors agreed to hold the next round of the conference in Jordan in the spring of 2005, the statement said.

Meanwhile, a senior U.N. official warned that Iraq has ''huge challenges'' in store before becoming what the international community wants the country to be.

''To actually transform what has been a totalitarian society into a democratic system is not something that happens overnight,'' Ross Mountain, deputy special representative for the U.N. secretary general for Iraq, told a press meeting Thursday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

The donors held similar conferences in Abu Dhabi in February and Doha in May.

Japan hosted the conference that opened Wednesday with the attendance of representatives from 53 countries and four organizations. The 57 participants included potential donor countries such as France and Germany.

It was the first international conference on the reconstruction of Iraq since the transfer of sovereignty.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Oct 18, 2004
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