A top U.S. aid official in Iraq has defended the pace of reconstruction there and detailed several projects tapped to receive a share of $4.3 billion in reconstruction funds.

U.S. Agency for International Development administrator (USAID) Andrew Natsios said those funds have been earmarked for repairing electricity grids, constructing water treatment plants and power stations, and building hundreds of schools, firehouses, clinics and police stations.

Mr. Natsios said $86 million has been allocated to Iraq's electoral commission and several non-government organizations preparing for the January elections.

Mr. Natsios acknowledged that the ongoing insurgency has slowed rebuilding efforts, but said he is optimistic about Iraq's future.

Some information for this story provided by AP and AFP.