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Donor Nations Confirm Commitment to Rebuilding Iraq - 2003-09-03

International donors have confirmed their commitment to reconstruction in Iraq. They have also expressed concerns about security in the country which has been hit by series of deadly bombings.

Donors meeting in Brussels Wednesday repeated their commitment to supporting reconstruction and to a successful transition to a democratically elected government. But, in a statement, they also said there must be adequate security for these goals to be achieved.

Diplomats say the continuing violence in Iraq was a major concern at the talks, however U.S. officials said the situation in Iraq is not as bad as it appears and is gradually improving.

Estimates put the cost of reconstructing Iraq, which has been devastated by war and more than a decade of economic sanctions, as high as $100 billion. That is much greater than the potential oil income from the nation.

Representatives from the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United States, the European Union, Japan and elsewhere took part in Wednesday's meeting. The group said the proposals made in Brussels will be presented to potential donors in New York Friday.

All this is in preparation for an Iraq donors pledging session in Madrid next month. There is no word on how much the donors plan to offer. The funds are to help restore basic facilities such as schools, hospitals and roads. The donor community wants a trust fund that is independent of the occupying powers, and run by either the U.N. or the World Bank.

Meanwhile, EU Commissioner for External Relations, Chris Patten said the timetable for aid must not be delayed by violence in Iraq, but also acknowledged the trouble will have some effect on reconstruction. He made the remarks to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.