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Iraq May Need Functioning Government Before World Bank Provides Aid

World Bank President James Wolfensohn says economic assistance for war-ravaged Iraq may only come after the country draws up a constitution and establishes a new government.

On a trip to assess reconstruction needs in Iraq, Mr. Wolfensohn told reporters in Baghdad that economic assistance will come to Iraq.

But he cautioned that before any aid begins to flow, Iraq must first set up a government, draft a constitution and re-establish the country as the Iraqi people would like to have it.

Shortly after Saddam Hussein's ouster, Mr. Wolfensohn announced that the World Bank would help to rebuild Iraq under the auspices of the United Nations. But he explained at the time that the bank could only deal with governments recognized by the world body.

Mr. Wolfensohn spoke Wednesday after meeting with U.N. special representative to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. While in Baghdad, he will also speak with the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, Paul Bremer, as well as with members of the Iraqi Governing Council.

The United States has appointed the 25-member governing council that represents Iraq's diverse ethnic and religious mix, but final authority in Iraq rests with Mr. Bremer.

On Wednesday, the Council appointed Ibrahim Jaafari as its first president. On Tuesday, council members decided not to name a permanent president, but instead named a committee of nine of its members who will each serve as president for one month. Mr. Jaafari is a Shi'ite Muslim of the conservative Dawa party.

The World Bank has been given the task of assessing the costs involved in rebuilding Iraq before a donors meeting expected by October. The Bank says one of the biggest problems in coming up with a cost estimate is the security situation in the country.

Coalition troops say they are working hard to restore order to Iraq. But they say Saddam loyalists and foreign mercenaries are carrying out almost daily attacks in order to foment instability. Iraqis complain that the U.-.S.-led authority has not done enough to restore security and basic services, particularly in Baghdad, where power outages are a daily occurrence and only half the telephones work.