US's Wolfowitz apparently appointed to post as Grande PooBah of Iraq
IRAQ: Activists Stunned by U.S. Debt Forgiveness Plan - " ... ”It's clearly self-serving,” said Soren Ambrose from the 50 Years is Enough network.
The U.S. government has steadfastly opposed cancelling debts in the rest of the world, he added, ”even in cases as egregious as the apartheid government's debts in South Africa and Mobutu's debts in Zaire (known now as Congo)”.
Ambrose said it would be a highly political matter if the choice were made to save the Iraqis alone. ”It's an absolute travesty,” he said."
G-7 Agrees That Iraq Needs Help With Debt - " ... The need for debt forgiveness has become an increasingly urgent refrain of the Bush administration. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said last week that the best way France, Germany and Russia could help Iraq is to write off the money they "lent to the dictator to buy weapons and to build palaces."
European irritation with U.S. pressure was evident yesterday, even though officials acknowledged that, as stated in the G-7 communique, the debt issue would need to be addressed at the Paris Club, an organization of creditor nations that negotiates debt deals with financially strapped governments.
"Any speculation about debt forgiveness is very, very premature, to put it in cautious terms," Hans Eichel, the German finance minister, said at a news conference. Eichel, whose nation is owed about $4 billion, also noted that the Paris Club handles mostly restructuring of debt rather than outright forgiveness."
Iraqi economy to hit friction - "The Bush administration hopes to start marshaling international support behind its reconstruction plans for the Iraqi economy, including forgiveness of much of the country's debts, at meetings this weekend of top economic policy-makers from around the world. But even before the meetings get under way, the U.S. effort is running afoul of the divisions that plagued Washington's drive to unseat the regime of Saddam Hussein.
World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn said that in the absence of a United Nations resolution affording legitimacy to a new authority in Baghdad, the bank can't even send a mission to Iraq unless its major shareholder countries give the go-ahead -- a stance that drew a rebuke from [Treasury Secretary John W.] Snow, who pronounced himself "baffled."
[Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told] a Senate hearing: "I hope they (Paris, Moscow and Berlin) will think about how they can contribute to helping the Iraq people get on their feet. ... I hope, for example, they'll think about the very large debts that come from money that was lent to the dictator to buy weapons and to build palaces."
Russia summit calls for U.N. lead in Iraq - "French, German and Russian leaders wrapped up a two-day summit in St. Petersburg Saturday with renewed calls for the United Nations to assume a central role in reconstructing Iraq, a prospect Washington appears likely to eschew.
The hastily arranged three-way meeting -- French President Jacques Chirac was added on to a previously scheduled encounter between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder -- was the first gathering of Europe's anti-war heavyweights since the beginning of the conflict against Baghdad.
"Tomorrow, after the necessary phase of securization, the United Nations should play a central role to assure the return of Iraq's sovereignty and render to the Iraqi people its dignity and its re-found liberty," Chirac said, in remarks broadcast on French television.
Putin said he believed the Iraq war coalition "is doing its best to prevent the humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq," according to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass. "But the scale of the tragedy is so considerable that it is real that the coalition cannot cope with its consequences alone."
However, some 200 miles away in Moscow, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin shot down the U.S. suggestion that Russia forgive Iraq's debts when a new government assumed control of the country. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz made comments earlier this week that suggested Russia forgive the $8 million debt in an effort to unburden a fledgling Iraqi authority."