Allies pledge billions for Iraq's reconstruction

Allies pledge billions for Iraq's reconstruction

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi attends the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq, in Bayan, Kuwait, February 14, 2018.

"At a time when only a few countries were participating in the reconstruction of Iraq, Iranian companies were active in building roads in the country and providing Iraqis with engineering services", he was quoted by state news agency IRNA.

Several countries in the Middle East have pledged billions of dollars in aid to help war-torn Iraq in its mission to rebuild the country following a four-year war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group.

An worldwide donor conference opened in Kuwait on Monday with hopes of rebuilding Iraq following its devastating war against ISIL.

"We finished one battle but we are engaged now with a war for reconstruction", said Mustafa al-Hiti, the head of Iraq's reconstruction fund for areas affected by terrorist operations.

Britain pledged up to $1 billion annually in export credit over 10 years and Japan said it would contribute $100 million this year to Iraq through United Nations agencies and global organisations.

Qatar pledged $1 billion in loans and investments and the United Arab Emirates pledged $500 million but added that there were $5.5 billion in private sector investments in Iraq. It instead hopes it can count largely on Gulf allies to shoulder the burden of rebuilding Iraq. It is also counting on a Saudi-Iraqi rapprochement to weaken Iran's influence in Iraq.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday urged worldwide partners to keep up the pressure on the Islamic State, warning that the terror group remains a threat despite its loss of territory in its former Mideast strongholds.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was ready to answer a USA call for it to expand its small training mission in Iraq to support reconstruction.

The minister said attacks by the terror group Daesh in Iraq had reduced the country's refining capacity from 930,000bpd to just 450,000bpd. It shows Kuwait's deep desire to see its northern neighbour have a stable government after the years of unrest following the 2003 USA -led invasion that toppled Saddam.

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