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US Moves to Boost Economic Development in Iraq - 2003-05-26

Efforts are under way to help Iraq begin the process of restoring an economy that had been manipulated for decades by the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Paul Bremer says efforts in Iraq are entering a new phase aimed at helping Iraqis rebuild their economy.

During a news conference in Baghdad, Mr. Bremer announced that a new trade credit facility would soon be opened to provide trade credit for companies wanting to export goods and services to Iraq.

Mr. Bremer said the lifting of U.N. sanctions against Iraq on Friday was a significant first step toward generating foreign investment in Iraq.

He said that while efforts continue to restore basic services, coalition forces and Iraqis have already had much success.

"We have established control over the country of Iraq," explained Mr. Bremer. "We turned water and power on, and we are working hard to improve the basic services nationwide.

"We have got an Iraqi police force up and running and conducting joint patrols with coalition military forces," he continued. "We have got most of the ministries back to work, some in their original buildings, some in temporary accommodations."

But throughout many parts of Iraq there remain long lines for gasoline and natural gas. Electricity is also a key issue, with many neighborhoods still without power. Mr. Bremer said he hopes to be able to provide more electricity through the use of generators.

He also announced that a de-Baathification advisory council would be formed to help implement policies aimed at ridding the country of Saddam Hussein's deposed Baath party and recovering party assets for the Iraqi people.

Mr. Bremer said that $250 million was recovered Sunday from a vault that had been submerged under water at Iraq's central bank in Baghdad. He said the money would remain with the bank.

The administrator said he planned to continue a food rationing program, noting that 60 percent of Iraqis had been dependent on the Saddam Hussein regime for their food.

Beginning June 1, Mr. Bremer said, Iraqis who own weapons will be required to either turn in their guns or have them licensed. He said progress is being made toward stopping illegal arms sales in Iraq.