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EU Expected to Approve Millions for Iraqi Reconstruction - 2003-10-13

The European Union is expected to approve a more than $230 million reconstruction aid package for Iraq before next week's donors conference in Spain. EU diplomats say Britain and Spain also are to propose an amended U.N. resolution on the future of Iraq in hopes of generating greater international support for peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts.

Diplomats say divisions remain within the European Union over how much to become involved in Iraq's reconstruction, given what many view as the unstable situation in the country.

Some EU countries that supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq are likely to make donations from national funds, in addition to the $230 million collective figure.

Britain fought along side U.S. forces in the war, and British foreign minister Jack Straw said his country will add more money.

"The United Kingdom will be giving a very substantial contribution," said Mr. Straw. "Of course the details will be made at the donors' conference, which takes place on October the 24. ... We are very committed, indeed, to the reconstruction, rehabilitation of Iraq. Just as we are so committed to the people of Iraq and that will be reflected in the contribution that we make."

He refused to confirm a report in Saturday's Financial Times that London plans to offer more than $900 million during the next three years."

The United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund estimate that more than $35 billion will be needed over the next four years to get the Iraqi economy going again."

But diplomats say critics of the war, led by France and Germany, seem unlikely to add much more funding without a satisfactory U.N. resolution on the future of Iraq.

As one EU diplomat put it, it is no secret that some member states think those who broke Iraq should pay to fix it.