Kuwait summit promises $30 billion in Iraq reconstruction aid

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched the Iraq Recovery and Resilience Programme today at the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq.

"Kuwait will earmark $1bn in loans to Iraq and will commit to another $1bn as investments", Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah said at the gathering.

Baghdad says it needs almost US$90 billion to rebuild after a three-year war against IS which devastated homes, schools, hospitals and economic infrastructure, displacing millions of people.

Saudi Arabia pledged $1.5 billion while the Kuwait-based Arab Fund says Iraq will receive $1.5 billion in infrastructure aid in coming years. Separately, partners are seeking United States dollars 569 million to provide life-saving assistance to 3.4 million highly vulnerable people across Iraq through the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan. It shows Kuwait's deep desire to see its northern neighbour have a stable government after the years of unrest following the 2003 US -led invasion that toppled Saddam.

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey vowed to provide a combined sum of $8.5 billion, with Turkey and Kuwait providing the bulk of this sum.

Kuwait's $2 billion contribution to Iraq's reconstruction was significant, considering that Iraq still owes Kuwait reparations from Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion that led to the 1991 Gulf War.

Iraq invaded oil-rich Kuwait in 1990 under former dictator Saddam Hussein, before it was forced to withdraw by a US -led military coalition. Only half of them have returned to their home towns.

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The victory came at a steep cost for Mosul, as coalition airstrikes and extremist suicide auto bombs destroyed homes and government buildings. The United Nations estimates that some 40,000 homes need to be rebuilt in Mosul alone.

The United States under President Donald Trump also seems uninterested in directly investing in Iraq's reconstruction.

Kuwait says a total of $30 billion in pledges have been made at a summit on rebuilding Iraq after the Islamic State war.

The US did not promise any aid at the conference. The package will be structured so that the initial amount could rise to as much as $5 billion over several years.

Meanwhile, regional tensions may affect how spending comes.

For his part, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged all his country's neighbors to contribute.

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