Iraq looks to more debt waivers after UAE deal

Last year, Saudi Arabia pledged to cancel 80 percent of more than $15 billion in Iraqi debt but has yet to follow through. Kuwait, also owed $15 billion, has yet to write off any debts.

Iraq looks to more debt waivers after UAE deal
Iraq seeks debt forgiveness from other Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, following the United Arab Emirates' waiver of almost $7 billion in obligations, the Iraqi government spokesman said on Monday.

"I imagine that the Emirati intiatives will be a push for many countries," Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters. "We want the others, everyone from Saudi Arabia to the others, to take a similar initiative and for those steps to be courageous."

On Sunday, the UAE named an ambassador to Iraq and cancelled almost $7 billion of debt including interest and arrears owed by Baghdad, becoming the first Gulf Arab country to forgive all of Iraq's debt.

Last year, Saudi Arabia pledged to cancel 80 percent of more than $15 billion in Iraqi debt but has yet to follow through. Kuwait, also owed $15 billion, has yet to write off any debts.

Improved stability and security in Iraq should provide a more solid basis for other Arab countries to normalise relations with Iraq, Dabbagh said.

"Saudi Arabia has announced its intention to open an embassy. We are waiting for it to take the practical steps in officially appointing an ambassador," Dabbagh said.

The United States has pressed Arab governments to support Iraq's recovery by joining Western nations in forgiving their share of Iraqi foreign debts that total up to $80 billion. Washington also wants Arab capitals to establish high-level diplomatic representation in Iraq.

Sunni Arab governments who once funded Iraq's 1980-1988 war against Shi'ite Iran have held back from establishing top-level ties with Baghdad since the U.S.-led war toppled Saddam Hussein, citing poor security and extensive Iranian influence.

Reuters
Last Mod: 07 Temmuz 2008, 18:17
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