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Bush Praises International Donors for New Iraq Aid - 2003-10-25


President Bush says the international community is rallying behind efforts to rebuild Iraq, providing much needed financial contributions and other aid.

In his weekly radio address, President Bush paid tribute to international donors for pledging $33 billion in aid and loans for Iraq at a donors meeting this week in Madrid. He suggested the effort to rebuild Iraq is gaining momentum.

"In recent weeks, leaders of South Korea, Japan, Great Britain, Spain, Denmark and other nations have committed billions of dollars to Iraqi reconstruction," he said. "This week brought even more progress. In Madrid, representatives of more than 70 nations and international bodies gathered to discuss the future needs of Iraq and the ways in which other countries can help. And these nations and international organizations pledged billions of dollars to aid the reconstruction of Iraq."

President Bush also hailed a U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing a multinational force in Iraq under U.S. command. Mr. Bush said progress is already being made in Iraq with the rebuilding of schools and power plants, and that the Iraqi people are moving toward a free and democratic society.

Democrats - and even some within President Bush's Republican Party - have said the United States is bearing too much of the financial and military burden in Iraq following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy gave the Democratic response to Mr. Bush's radio address.

"We are having to shoulder more than our share of the risk to our troops and the cost of the war and its aftermath," he said. "That is because the White House squandered the reservoir of the world's goodwill that we [the United States] had after September 11 [2001 terrorist attacks]. If we are going to succeed in rebuilding Iraq, we need to build a real coalition, based on respect for our allies, to share the burden."

Senator Leahy also called for additional health benefits for reservists and other U.S. servicemen called to duty in the war on terrorism.

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