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11/6/03 - IRAQI REBIRTH - 2003-11-07

The Iraqi people are not alone as they work to build a secure, democratic, and prosperous society. The U.S., Britain, South Korea, Japan, Denmark, and other countries are committing billions of dollars in aid and technical assistance to Iraq. President George W. Bush said many other nations are joining this effort:

"In Madrid, representatives of more than seventy nations and international bodies including the World Bank, UNICEF [United Nations Children's Fund], and the Organization of the Islamic Conference 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."

Last month's donors' conference in Madrid committed some thirty-three billion dollars in aid for Iraq for the next four years -- an amount double Iraq's gross domestic product. Spain's Foreign Minister Ana Palacio said the participants "expressed not just their support for rebuilding Iraq, but also endorsed the change entailed in liberating Iraq from dictatorship and oppression."

Ms. Palacio pointed out that "twenty-five years ago, Iraq's annual per-capita income was three-thousand six-hundred dollars" -- roughly that of Spain at the time. But decades of oppression, corruption, and war by the Saddam Hussein regime reduced Iraq's annual per capita income to just six-hundred dollars.

Rebuilding Iraq's shattered economy will take time and resources. It will require support from other nations and non-governmental organizations. It will require a revitalized private sector. And it will require considerable effort by the Iraqi people. Ms. Palacio pointed out that "Iraqis have to be the architects of their own future and in this respect [the] Madrid [conference] has helped end the vicious circle imposed by Saddam for decades."

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said the U.S., for its part, will remain in Iraq until it achieves three goals: "to improve security by aggressively hunting down the terrorists. . .who are attempting to undermine progress for the Iraqi people; to work with the international community and the Iraqi people to rebuild Iraq, restore basic services,[and] jump-start the Iraqi economy; and. . .to accelerate the orderly transfer of sovereignty and authority to the Iraqi people."