29 September 2003
U.S. Pursues Maximum Commitment from Donor Countries for Iraq
State's Ereli says Madrid Conference will study needs assessments
The United States expects "widespread recognition that the needs [in Iraq] are great and that the international community will respond accordingly" when donor countries gather in Madrid in October to discuss plans for Iraqi reconstruction, State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli said.
Addressing questions from the press September 26, Ereli stated that the United States has been clear in its assessment of the needs in Iraq and noted that the World Bank and United Nations are currently conducting their own studies. These will all serve as a basis for discussions in Madrid, he said.
Meanwhile, "the United States is working with all donors to get the maximum amount possible for Iraq," Ereli said.
Ereli also praised the work of Robert W. Jordan, who is leaving his post as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia for personal reasons. He noted that the Saudis "have told us that they wish he would stay."
Following are excerpts from the transcript of Ereli's remarks which he made to the media September 26:
Remarks to the Press
J. Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
September 26, 2003
(1:00 p.m. EDT)
QUESTION: What do you think about Ambassador Jordan and Saudi Arabia?
MR. ERELI: I talked to your colleague about that. Ambassador Jordan, several months ago, informed the Department of his intention to leave Saudi Arabia for personal reasons.
He has done an absolutely superlative job in our relationship with Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian Government holds him in the highest regard, as does the Secretary and the Department of State. He is a fabulous ambassador and a fabulous representative of his country; and he is leaving for personal reasons.
QUESTION: Is there any episode that contributed, perhaps, to Saudi unhappiness with him?
MR. ERELI: I would dispute the suggestion that there is any Saudi unhappiness with him. They have, as far as I know, publicly expressed their support for Ambassador Jordan and the work he has done in the bilateral relationship.
QUESTION: I understand there was some unhappiness because he said something that could have been interpreted as meddling in Saudi internal affairs.
MR. ERELI: No.
QUESTION: This was at a social event --
MR. ERELI: No. No. That does not sound right. I would refer you to the Government of Saudi Arabia for official comment, but that does not square with what we have received. In fact, they have told us that they wish he would stay.
QUESTION: Yeah, I've got two other quick things. There's a story in the Journal that cites Administration officials as having told Congress this week that they expect bilateral donor pledges at the Madrid Conference to be about $2 billion. Is that accurate? Was there any such testimony or briefing to the Hill, and is that what you're now expecting?
MR. ERELI: I can speak to State Department testimony, and having talked to those offices that did the testimony, that was certainly not a number put out from us because it's really not -- at this point it's a little premature to start coming up with figures.
The point to make here is that the United States is working with all donors to get the maximum amount possible for Iraq. We've been talking quite openly about what our estimates of the overall needs are. There is a needs assessment currently being conducted by the international community, the World Bank, the UN and others. Their reports should be out shortly, and that will provide another good picture of what Iraq needs.
Once those two things are out there and we're all in Madrid, it will become very clear that this is an enormously important and an enormous opportunity to resolve or support a need for stability and security, not only in the region, but for the international community.
And we believe that there will be a strong and positive response to that need. But to say at this point that that response is going to be $2 billion is, I think, really misleading.
QUESTION: Well, regardless of whether your briefers were the ones that put the number out there, do you have any reason to believe that $2 billion is an accurate reflection of the U.S. Government's expectations for that conference?
MR. ERELI: I think we're expecting, we're expecting, not only at that conference, but as this, you know, moves on -- this is a long-term effort -- I think we're expecting there to be widespread recognition that the needs are great and that the international community will respond accordingly.
QUESTION: But you can't say whether you think $2 billion is right or wrong?
MR. ERELI: That's just so highly speculative.
QUESTION: Okay, then one last one. The Egyptian Foreign Minister Maher this morning said, he urged the United States, essentially urged the United States to deal with Arafat, saying that he was the -- a part of the solution, not a part of the problem, an elected Palestinian leader, and one that other Palestinians are likely to follow.
He also said that there are efforts underway to negotiate a more permanent ceasefire with the Palestinian militant groups. One, do you have any interest in dealing with Arafat now? And two, do you know of any such efforts to negotiate a permanent ceasefire with the militant groups?
MR. ERELI: Egypt is a close friend and a valued partner. Our position on Arafat obviously hasn't changed, and our focus is on helping the PA and working with the PA, the Palestinian Authority, to decisively crack down on the terror organizations that are attacking the peace process.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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