The United States has launched a campaign to woo Arab
allies to contribute billions of dollars to a fund to rebuild Iraq.
U.S. officials said the effort launched by the Bush administration plans
to target Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council states. They said
the U.S. proposal has been raised with several Arab leaders.
"We would like either military contributions or fiscal contributions from
our allies," a U.S. official said. "We believe that our Arab friends would
be more comfortable with helping rebuild Iraq through financial aid."
The U.S. campaign will be the focus of a tour by Deputy Secretary of
State Richard Armitage. Armitage plans to leave for the Middle East on
Wednesday for a six-day tour that will take him to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and
the United Arab Emirates, Middle East Newsline reported.
Officials said Armitage intends to obtain Arab financial commitments
ahead of a U.S.-sponsored conference to reconstruct Iraq. The parley has
been scheduled for Oct. 15 in Madrid and 50 countries have agreed to
Armitage plans to woo the UAE by also presenting a version of a plan
issued by Abu Dhabi in early 2003. The plan, released before the U.S.-led
war in March, called for a pan-Arab force that would take responsibility for
Iraq as part of an agreement by Saddam Hussein to enter exile. Saddam
rejected the UAE plan.
The U.S. version of the UAE proposal calls for a pan-Arab force to deploy
in Iraq. The plan calls for the force to be under the authority of the
U.S.-led coalition but come under Arab League sponsorship.
Armitage also plans to visit Cairo and meet Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak. Mubarak has been the leading U.S. ally in the Middle East to oppose
the American military presence in Iraq and refuse Egyptian participation in
efforts to stabilize Iraq.
Mubarak was said to have rejected a request by President George Bush to
send Egyptian troops to Iraq. The request was relayed by Bush during his
meeting with Mubarak at the June 3 Sharm e-Sheik conference.